Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity could become the first World Heritage site in the Palestinian Territories, reports Tim Hume of CNN.A successful bid would irk both U.S. and Israel as both countries protested against Palestine’s inclusion into the United Nations’ heritage body (UNESCO).
UNESCO will decide June 24 to July 6 if the “birthplace of Jesus” holds “outstanding universal value” as part of the world’s shared heritage.
One of the oldest surviving Christian churches in the world and Palestine’s top tourist attraction, the church is located about five miles south of Jerusalem in the West Bank and drew 2 million visitors last year.
Palestine was granted membership to UNESCO in October 2011. The U.S. — which argued that a peace deal with Israel must be reached before the Palestinian Territories can be granted full membership to international organisations — subsequently cut $65 million of its funding to the U.N. agency.
The $80 million that the U.S. contributed each year comprised 22 per cent of the agency’s funding.
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