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Israel slams UNESCO decision to list ancient Jericho as World Heritage Site   

September 18, 2023 at 10:51 am

People visit the ancient city of Jericho (Tel es-Sultan), which is the 5th historical monument to be included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, in West Bank on September 17, 2023. [Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency]

Israeli occupation authorities condemned UNESCO’s decision to list ancient Jericho, Tell Es-Sultan, on the World Heritage List.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry described the UNESCO decision as “another sign of the cynical use the Palestinians are making of UNESCO and the organisation’s politicization.”

“Israel will act with its many friends in the organization to change the flawed decisions made,” the statement continued.

UNESCO’s decision came during the 45th meeting of its World Heritage Committee, which was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the participation of an Israeli delegation, although Tel Aviv had withdrawn from the UN organisation in 2019.

Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, Ernesto Ottone, said the organisation was inscribing the pre-historic site of Tell As-Sultan, located near the West Bank city of Jericho, to its World Heritage List.

A UN diplomat confirmed that “there are no Jewish or Christian remains at the site. It’s a place of pre-historic remains” dating back 10,000 to 700 years BC.

Read: UNESCO confirms Israel delegation attendance at Riyadh conference

He pointed out that the site was nominated three years ago before it was listed this year, adding, “There was no objection from any member state.”

Tell As-Sultan, which is considered older than Egypt’s pyramids, is located in the Jordan Valley. It is an oval hill that contains deposits of prehistoric human activity and includes the Ain As-Sultan spring next to it.

According to the organisation’s website: “A permanent settlement had emerged here by the 9th to 8th millennium BC, due to the fertile soil of the oasis and easy access to water. Skulls and statues found on the site testify to cultic practices amongst the Neolithic populations living there, and the Early Bronze Age archaeological material shows signs of urban planning.”

The official Palestinian News Agency Wafa reported that President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the decision, describing it as “a matter of great importance and evidence of the authenticity and history of the Palestinian people.”

He promised that the Palestinians will “continue to preserve this unique site for all humanity.”