Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Recognition sought for Church of Nativity

21 June 2012, 15:22

 Paris - The Palestinians' quest to get Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity named a Unesco World Heritage site is set to dominate a meeting next week in Russia to decide who is accepted on the prestigious list.

The World Heritage Committee is meeting in Saint Petersburg from 24 June to 6 July and is to rule on the Palestinians' first contentious application since they joined the UN's cultural body in October last year.

The site, which includes the Pilgrimage Route, is one of 33 hoping to get the coveted designation of "exceptional universal value" and join the already long list of 936 places in 153 countries.

Applicants range from the "Carioca landscapes" in Rio de Janeiro to Grand-Bassam in Ivory Coast, passing via old mining sites in northern France and Belgium, Piedmont's vineyards in Italy and Rabat in Morocco.

Five sites are natural: Chad's Lakes of Ounianga, China's Chengjian fossil site, the Sangha Park straddling Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic, the Western Ghats in India and the Lena Pillars Nature Park in Russia.

The Palestinians' first request since they provoked the ire of Israel and the United States by joining Unesco is "on an emergency basis" because of the fourth century site's dilapidation after 50 years without restoration work.

Negative report

The full site to be listed would be the "Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem", Unesco said, noting that it would be the first such site in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories.

But the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which evaluates sites for Unesco, earlier this month delivered a negative report that said the Palestinians had not carried out a full survey of threats to the site.

Palestinian ambassador Elias Sanbar however rejected that report, saying that "those who lost the battle in the vote on Palestine's admission to Unesco want to prevent us from exercising our rights".

The report was "biased" and "politicised" and was influenced by the United States and Israel, which sought to block the Palestinians from joining Unesco, Sanbar said.

The Palestinians were admitted to Unesco in October, when its general assembly voted 107-14 to make Palestine its 195th member.

The result angered the United States, Israel's staunch ally, which says the Palestinians must reach a peace agreement with the Jewish state before they can become full members of an international organisation.

Economic benefits

Israel and the United States subsequently cut funding to Unesco, depriving the organisation of 22% of its revenues.

The Church of the Nativity is the most visited tourist site in the Palestinian territories, welcoming 2 million visitors in 2011.

The 22-nation Heritage Committee will decide on the Palestinian bid with a vote and can go against the experts' opinion.

Being anointed a World Heritage Site brings vast economic benefits in terms of funds for restoration and preservation and being able to display the coveted label is all but guaranteed to bring in more tourists.

But the main challenge today is preserving Unesco sites threatened by lack of maintenance, uncontrolled tourism or rampant economic activity such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef affected by a boom in mining and gas.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...