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Palestine urges UNESCO to stop Israel settlement project on Palestinian site in Nablus

May 10, 2023 at 4:18 pm

Palestinians react to the march organised by Israeli settlers held to demand legalisation of the Avitar settlement outpost near the city of Nablus in West Bank, on April 10, 2023 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian authorities urged the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to call out and prevent Israel’s settlement project in the town of Sebastia, based north-west of Nablus.

“We call on the UNESCO agency to prevent the Israeli occupation authorities from establishing a settlement project near the Sebastia village,” Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said during a cabinet meeting.

He warned that the Israeli settlement project will cause heavy damage to the historical site near the village.

The Mayor of Sebastia, Mohammad Azem, added that the Israeli project aims to turn the archaeological site into a park.

According to The Times of Israel, the Israeli government approved a budget of NIS 32 million ($8.8 million) on Sunday for the restoration and development of the Sebastia archaeological site to enable more settlers to expand the illegal settlement of Shavei Shomron.

READ: Israel issues demolition and stop-work orders in occupied Hebron

All settlements and settlers are illegal under international law. Nevertheless, according to official data, around 650,000 extremist Israeli Jewish settlers live in more than 130 settlements that have been built on Palestinian land since the Occupation of the West Bank started in 1967.

Sebastia is a small historic town located on a hill, 11 kilometres to the north-west of Nablus; 3,000 Palestinians inhabit the area. The area has been identified as the capital of the northern kingdom during the Iron Age II in Palestine, and a major urban centre during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, according to UNESCO.