The announcement by UNESCO that the ancient ruins of Jericho in the Palestinian territories had been added to the organization’s list of World Heritage sites has sparked outrage and criticism from the Israeli government. Israel has condemned the move as politicizing the heritage list, claiming the decision was made for political reasons alone.
The Jewish state maintains that the site should remain apolitical and therefore should not be tied to the Palestinian issue. Israeli politicians have labelled the decision as an ‘attempt to rewrite history’. Netanyahu’s government has repeatedly condemned the UN body for its treatment of the country as well as its unfair bias in favour of the Palestinian cause.
This decision comes amid heightened tensions in the region, with Israeli-Palestinian relations at their lowest point in years. The addition of Jericho to the list of World Heritage Sites follows last year’s vote in favour of two other UNESCO sites in the West Bank, prompting further Israeli criticism.
UNESCO has countered such accusations, arguing that its mandate is to protect global cultural heritage sites of outstanding universal significance, regardless of country borders. The organization has worked to protect the Jericho site for over a decade, and with this most recent decision is recognising its unique value and providing further protections.