AJC Regrets UNESCO Action on Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

June 29, 2012 – New York – AJC is deeply disappointed with UNESCO’s decision to designate the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem an “endangered site”. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee approved the Palestinian request to add the church to its list of sites in danger.

“UNESCO regrettably accepted in October ‘Palestine’ as a full member, and now is compounding that error by endorsing the Palestinian narrative of Bethlehem,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “Bethlehem, in fact, is under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction, which means if this important Christian religious site is threatened, PA leadership must take responsibility.”

The roof of the church reportedly has suffered water damage, but the PA has not taken action to repair it.

The UNESCO committee narrowly passed the resolution by a vote of 13 to six, with two abstentions. Had one more country voted no or abstained, the bid would have failed.

“UNESCO is not the vehicle to Israeli-Palestinian peace,” Harris added. “Only direct Israeli-Palestinian talks, which the PA refuses to resume, will bring about the peace and security both peoples so much desire and deserve.”