A U.N. conference voted Sunday to list prehistoric ruins near the ancient West Bank city of Jericho as a World Heritage Site in Palestine.
This decision may upset Israel, as it controls the territory and does not acknowledge a Palestinian state.
Jericho is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and is located in a part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank that is administered by the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority. The site that was added to the list is Tel es-Sultan, an archaeological site near Jericho that contains prehistoric ruins dating back to the ninth millennium B.C.
The decision was made during a meeting of the U.N. World Heritage Committee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which was organized by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO.
Israel left UNESCO in 2019, claiming that it showed bias against Israel and undermined its connection to the Holy Land. In 2011, UNESCO’s acceptance of Palestine as a member state was also objected to by Israel. However, Israel is still a party to the World Heritage Convention and sent a delegation to the meeting in Riyadh.
In the 1967 Mideast war, Israel gained control of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The Palestinians want all three territories for their future state, while Israel considers the West Bank to be the biblical and cultural heartland of the Jewish people.
Jericho is a popular tourist destination in the Palestinian territories due to its historical sites and proximity to the Dead Sea. In 2021, the Palestinian Authority completed significant renovations to one of the largest mosaics in the Middle East, located in a Jericho palace dating back to the 8th century.