The Palestinian Authority on Sunday will attend a session of the world heritage committee Sunday in Russia to lobby for adding the Old City of Bethlehem to the UNESCO list, officials said.
The Palestinian Authority foreign minister, Riyad al-Malki, will submit his ministry's bid in St. Petersburg in line with the leadership in Ramallah's efforts to preserve cultural and natural sitesin Palestine, the PA news agency Wafa reported Tuesday.
The PA has a list of about 20 Palestinian sites in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem it wants added to the world heritage list, according to the report.
Among the sites seeking recognition is the village of Battir, whose Roman aqueducts are said to be under threat by Israel's separation wall. The village is close to the edge of the West Bank.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that the effort to get Battir on the heritage list was bogged down by Palestinian disagreements, and the case was blocked at the last minute.
Instead, the Palestinian delegation to UNESCO is trying to get Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity on the list on an emergency basis, according to the report. However, a panel of experts says the church does not need renovations and church officials have other concerns, the Times reported.
The Palestinian ambassador to UNESCO, Elias Sanbar, was quoted as responding that “a persistent campaign of rumors aimed at discrediting Bethlehem’s candidacy.”
Those "who do not want to see Palestine exercise its legitimate rights" are behind the rumor campaign, he wrote in a letter.