The Palestinian Authority plans to use membership in the United Nations' UNESCO cultural committee to lay claims to Jewish holy sites, PA ministers said Monday, speaking to Reuters.
PA Minister of Culture Hamdan Taha said the PA would seek World Heritage status for several sites, beginning with Bethlehem. The PA has already had some success in claiming Bethlehem sites for the Arab world - in 2010, UNESCO agreed to declare the Tomb of Rachel a mosque and "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories."
UNESCO also agreed to criticize Israel for declaring the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Me'arat Hamachpelah), in which most of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs are buried, an Israeli heritage site...The PA will seek UNESCO recognition for its claims in Hevron as well, Taha said. It will also seek recognition for Shechem, the Shomron (Samaria) city that is home to Joseph's Tomb.
"We think that every old city has the right to prepare a nomination file" for heritage site status, Taha said.
...Taha described the Palestinians' motives as "purely cultural."
"This will allow Palestine to actively participate in protecting cultural heritage in the Palestinian territories," he said.
The territories where the Palestinians aim to found their state are home to a plethora of ancient sites, many of biblical significance, as well as sites of natural importance such as the Dead Sea.
Aside from Bethlehem, the Palestinian Authority has listed ancient pilgrimage routes and the West Bank towns of Nablus and Hebron among 20 cultural and natural heritage sites which Taha said could also be nominated as World Heritage Sites.
Thieves of culture, of history.
They seek the supplantation of identity.