YES.... Bethlehem is World Heritage


Heritage is a legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places that are unique and diverse such as; Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, Pisa's Piazza del Cuomo of Italy, Central Amazon Conservation Complex of Brazil, and Taj Mahal of India make up the world’s heritage, and what makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

The World Heritage Convention encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural sites considered to be of outstanding value to humanity, and inscribing them on the World Heritage List, which includes more than 900 sites around the world.

Referring to the decision of the World Heritage Committee during its 26th session held in Budapest on June-2002 which have recognized the Palestinian cultural and natural heritage and its outstanding universal value and called to protect it, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in cooperation with the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation in Bethlehem and Bethlehem Municipality under the technical supervision of the UNESCO Office - Ramallah, prepared and submitted the nomination documents to the World Heritage Committee for inscribing Bethlehem on the World Heritage List (a project funded by the World Heritage Fund).

"Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route"

The Decision to Inscribe Bethlehem in Saint Petersburg

It was Palestine’s fate to wait for forty years before it was recognized as a full state member of UNESCO and could inscribe a site under its name. Bethlehem is considered the second Palestinian site after Jerusalem, which was inscribed in 1981 after a request from Jordan and is still on the list of endangered sites. The battle to inscribe the site was fierce. Palestine had to overcome the first obstacle, which was approval of the emergency appeal, which required the majority of the voting committee (11 members). The initial discussion reflected clearly support for the file, which lead the Russian chair of the session to move directly to voting on the decision to inscribe Bethlehem on the World Heritage List.

The Palestinian diplomats in Saint Petersburg and in Ramallah played a major role in convincing the state members of the committee of the necessity of supporting the file. The Palestinian delegation in Saint Petersburg, which was composed of Dr. Elias Sanbar, the Palestinian Ambassador at the UNESCO, Dr. Hamdan Taha, Assistant Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Mr. Fayed Mustafa the Palestinian Ambassador at the Russian Federation Mr. Mounir Anastas, the deputy  of the head of delegation, the Ambassador Mrs. Rawan Abu Yousef, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were closely observing the situation, and following the development of the discussion inside and outside the meeting hall, with a close follow up of Mrs Rula Ma'ayia, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities

The State Members: Algeria, Iraq, Qatar, Arab Emerates, Malaysia, Senegal, and Mali, the Russian Federation, France, India, and South Africa, played a key role in the discussion. Two-thirds of the members voted in favour of the inscription of Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem, Palestine, on the World Heritage List in Danger. Thirteen members voted in favour of the decision, six voted against and two members abstained. When the hammer of the Russian Chair of the Session announced the results, the applause of the crowd filled the hall for a ontinuous five minutes in an unprecedented moment for this committee, which reflects the enormous support of the international community for Palestine. The acceptance speech was presented by Mr. Riad Al Maliki, Palestinian Minister of Exterior, who thanked the World Heritage Committee and the international community.  Dr. Iman Saqa, Dr. Moawyia Ibrahim, Dr. Iman Assi and many other friends from Palestine shared this momentous event The miserable speech of the Israeli ambassador to the UNESCO did not spoil the triumphant joy of the moment.

The inscription of Bethlehem on the World Heritage List crowned the enormous, magnificent efforts of the Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and the Municipality of Bethlehem, the three churches, Palestine’s Mission to the UNESCO, the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation in Bethlehem, the UNESCO Office in Ramallah, the Presidential Committee for the Restoration of the Roof of the Church of the Nativity, the World Heritage Centre and the large number of volunteers who joined the project. The political support that was presented by the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had the major impact in reaching this noble goal.

نعم ....بيت لحم هي تراث عالمي

تراثنا هو عبق من الماضي، هو ما نعيشه اليوم، وما نمرره إلى الأجيال القادمة، وتراثنا الثقافي والطبيعي نبع من مصادر الحياة والإلهام التي لا يمكن تعويضها. تعتبر الأماكن المميزة والمتنوعة مثل الأهرامات في مصر وسور الصين العظيم وبرج بيزا المائل في ايطاليا، ومحمية الأمازون الوسطى في البرازيل وتاج محل في الهند من مكونات التراث العالمي، فهي إرث يخص الجميع، بغض النظر عن موقعها على خريطة العالم.

تحث لجنة التراث العالمي الدول على تحديد المواقع التراثية والطبيعية التي تمثل قيمة استثنائية للبشرية، وحمايتها والحفاظ عليها، والعمل على إدراجها على قائمة التراث العالمي، التي تضم أكثر من 900موقعاً مختلفاً في جميع أنحاء العالم.

استناداً إلى قرار لجنة التراث العالمي خلال دورته السادسة والعشرين، التي انعقدت في بودابست في حزيران 2002، وأشارت إلى القيمة الاستثنائية لمواقع التراث الثقافي والطبيعي في فلسطين ودعت إلى حمايتها، قامت وزارة السياحة والآثار الفلسطينية بالتعاون مع مركز حفظ التراث الثقافي في بيت لحم و بلدية بيت لحم وبإشراف فني من قبل مكتب الأمم المتحدة للتربية والعلوم والثقافة – اليونسكو/رام الله، بتحضير و تسليم ملف إدراج بيت لحم على قائمة التراث العالمي إلى لجنة التراث العالمي (يمّول هذا المشروع من قبل صندوق التراث العالمي).

"مكان ولادة السيد المسيح: كنيسة المهد ومسار الحجاج"





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