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Palestinian village now world heritage site

The terraces of Battir, where building of a separation wall is being considered, risk irreversible damage if a barrier is constructed on it, says UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Doha: A Palestinian village, the terraces of Battir, made it to the list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites list after an emergency nomination meant to try to block Israel from building a barrier across its ancient farmland.

Land on the West Bank
Land on the West Bank town of Battir, south west of Jerusalem. Pic/AFP

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation said the village was recognised urgently in view of “construction of a separation wall that may isolate farmers from fields they have cultivated for centuries.”

During the voting in Doha, Qatar, 11 members of the committee supported listing Battir, three opposed the proposal and seven abstained.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee said the farmed valleys at the village in the occupied West Bank near Jerusalem feature picturesque stone terraces that risk “irreversible damage” if the barrier would be constructed.

Israel says its barrier of razor wire fences and concrete walls has been built across the West Bank for security reasons. Some of the work begun in 2003 has yet to be completed.

Palestinians argue the barrier deprives them of land where they want to establish an independent state.

The emergency application is an example of the Palestinian leadership’s strategy to join UN agencies and sign UN treaties to boost its claim to statehood.

The UNESCO statement did not mention Israel, saying only that “the landscape had become vulnerable under the impact of socio-cultural and geo-political transformations.”

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