A United Nations conference decided on Sunday to add a series of ruins in the ancient West Bank city of Jericho to Palestine’s world heritage list. The decision is likely to anger Israel, which controls the area and does not recognize a Palestinian state.
Jericho is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and is part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It is administered by the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority. The recognition relates to the nearby Tel es-Sultan archaeological site, which has ruins dating back to the 9th millennium BC. contains.
The decision was made at the request of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, at a meeting of the United Nations World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Israel left UNESCO in 2019, saying the organization was biased against it and downplayed its connection to the Holy Land. In 2011, Israel was also against the admission of Palestine as a member state by UNESCO. However, Israel remains a party to the World Heritage Convention and sent a delegation to the summit in Riyadh.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. The Palestinians claim all three areas to form a future state. Israel considers the West Bank to be the biblical and cultural homeland of the Jewish people.
There have been no serious or relevant peace negotiations for more than a decade, and Israel now has the most religious and nationalist government in its history, making any initiative to form a Palestinian state unimaginable.
The modern city of Jericho is a major tourist attraction for the Palestinian territories, both because of its historical sites and its proximity to the Dead Sea. In 2021, the Palestinian Authority unveiled a major restoration project for one of the largest mosaics in the Middle East, located in an 8th-century palace in Jericho.