Simon Wiesenthal Center representatives currently in Russia reached out to Jspace to announce UNESCO has named the Church of the Nativity a World Heritage site.
The decision came in a 13 to six vote, with two abstentions. Though the decision was made through secret ballot, the SWC said it was a vote by French Ambassador Daniel Rondeau that was the determining factor. No other western nation sided with the bid.
SWC International Relations Director Shimon Samuels reported that the Palestinian delegate in Russia said after the announcement, “Israel colonizers threaten the existence of the Palestinian people…we will present many more nominations in danger from Israel.”
Israeli Ambassador Nimrod Barkan replied: "This decision was political and does great damage to the World Heritage Convention. By sleight of hand, guardianship has been passed from the churches to a non-existing state...UNESCO lives in an Alice in Wonderland mentality.”
Controversy surrounding the designation lies in Palestine’s technique for ensuring the Church was named a World Heritage site. It petitioned to the WHC that the Church of the Nativity was in danger of extinction, due to Israeli interference. Opponents say this vote could act as a stepping-stone toward legitimizing complaints against Israel.
Though the US is not a member nation of the World Heritage Committee, it campaigned heavily against this outcome in the lead up to the vote.