UNESCO Adds Site Near Jericho to World Heritage List

    UNESCO Adds Site Near Jericho to World Heritage List
    Last updated Sep 19, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • The United Nations voted on Sunday to designate prehistoric ruins at Tell es-Sultan, a site near the West Bank city of Jericho, as a World Heritage site. The ruins date back to the ninth millennium BC.
    • The UN's Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decision was met with backlash from Israel, which parted ways with the organization in 2019. The foreign ministry called the decision a "cynical ploy" and accused the Palestinians of using UNESCO in its politicization efforts.
    • At the time of its departure from UNESCO, Israel blamed the organization for minimizing Jewish ties to the Holy Land when it deemed a shrine in Hebron, a biblical city, a Palestinian World Heritage site. Israel criticized the Tell es-Sultan announcement as a further minimization, as the site is in an area administered by the Palestinian Authority.
    • In response to the criticism from Israel, Ernesto Ottone, UNESCO's assistant director general, said that during the three-year candidacy period, "no state party raised any objections." Ottone went on to state: "There are no Jewish or Christian remains found at the (Tell al-Sultan) site. It's a place of prehistoric remains."
    • In 2019, the US joined Israel in leaving UNESCO. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said at the time, "UNESCO is among the most corrupt and politically biased UN agencies."


    Narrative A

    While history and heritage have long existed as a potential catalyst between Israel and Palestine, the nature of the designation of Tell es-Sultan transcends beyond that. There is a rich historical perspective and many stories to be told in the preservation of this site. Palestine is committed to uncovering the history of mankind and sharing it with the world.

    Narrative B

    Israel took comfort when former US President Trump withdrew from UNESCO in solidarity with the nation. Now that President Biden has taken office and rejoined the agency, Israel must take a stand and face the agency that has become increasingly anti-Israel. The path forward should include Israel rejoining the agency and, instead of fixating on the anti-Israel sentiment and running away, it should work with allies to build a confident coalition to support the needs and requirements of the Jewish people.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 50% chance that Israel will recognize Palestine by November 2073, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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