Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity Under Threat
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was nominated as an endangered site on UNESCO’s World Heritage list by the Palestinian Authority.
The bid will be decided at the World Heritage Convention in St. Petersburg, Russia, from June 24 to July 6. UNESCO, the scientific and cultural agency of the United Nations, recognized Palestine last year as a member state.
Israel and the United States are opposing the action, which could cause problems for UNESCO. While the Palestinians police the Bethlehem’s streets, Israel still has authority to determine what enters and leaves the area.
After UNESCO voted 107-14 in favor of granting member status to the Palestinians, existing U.S. laws mandated Congress to withdraw its annual commitment of $80 million of foreign assistance to the organization.
President Obama has said, however, that he would like Congress to clear the way for UNESCO to reapply for funds.