Hebron Nominated to UNESCO World Heritage List

By Hiyam Noir

The City of Hebron ( Khalil) in the Palestinian West Bank, is nominated to a place in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites by a group of European organizations and institutions, who met in a conference in Venice last week under the slogan, “Let us make peace in the Middle East. Let us rebuild the hope."

In year 2001 the ancient walled port-city of the Old City of Akka in the Western Galilee received the status of a place on the World Heritage List, under the criteria of sites with outstanding universal value, meeting at least one out of ten selection in the UNESCO’s criteria and operational guidelines.

The conference is a preparation to meet a call from UNESCO, to place the City of Hebron and its ancient history sites on the World Heritage Site list, which means Hebron would be a protected area, also eligible for rebuilding funds. The conference in Venice, was attended by delegates from all European nations, working towards a “diplomacy of the cities" in "building hope and support peace in the Middle East.

According to the Hebron governor, Khalid Al-Asali, the treasures of Palestine are left unrecognized and unprotected by the international body. The nomination was stressed forward by Al-Asali, with support from the municipal governor of Belfort, in France. The initiative is received very well by the European Nations, and has a strong supporter in Louisa Morgantini, a member of the EU Parliament.

Al-Asali stated that "The recognition of Hebron as a heritage site will prevent future Israeli attacks on the residents of the city.” He added, "My hope is that, with Hebron listed and ranked as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, it will restore the life of the city to how it was earlier, previous to the Israeli incursions, with beginning of the second Intifada.

To shed light on the many obstacles, difficult challenges and dangerous living conditions of the residents in the old city of Hebron, Al-Asali gave a speech to the delegates participating in the conference. Al-Asali told the delegates about frequent Israeli attacks on Hebron and its neighboring towns and villages, aimed at forcing the residents out of the municipally, in favor of Israeli settlers, about the constant threat from Israeli settler attacks, some of them deadly, on Palestinian residents.

Al-Asali also told the delegates of the conference, about the roadblocks, and how 1.500 Israeli soldiers are patrolling the streets of Hebron, and how the Israeli policies prevent the Hebron municipally from administering basic services to benefit the Hebron residents.

– Hiyam Noir contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (Photo: Courtesy Palestine Remembered)

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