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Ancient Jericho named UNESCO World Heritage Site in Palestine

The UN cultural agency UNESCO has selected the ancient city of Jericho in the occupied West Bank as a World Heritage Site in Palestine, according to a Palestinian official on Sunday, 17 September 2023.

“Palestine succeeded in listing ancient Jericho/Tel es-Sultan on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rula Maayah said in a statement.

Jericho was voted to the list during the 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Maayah said five Palestinian sites are now listed on the World Heritage Sites.

The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, the Church of the Nativity and the pilgrimage route in Bethlehem, the cultural landscape of southern Jerusalem and Battir, and the Old City in Hebron are already on the UNESCO list.

One of the world’s oldest towns, ancient Jericho/Tell es-Sultan dates back beyond 10,000 BC.

Located 1.5 kilometers north of modern Jericho and 10 kilometers northwest of the Dead Sea, it sits 250 meters below sea level along the Jordan Rift Valley – making it the lowest ancient town on earth.

Ancient Jericho features an enduring and diverse cultural heritage, dating from the 10th millennium BC through to the 7th century AD Byzantine era, and beyond.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the selection of ancient Jericho on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list “was a testament to the authenticity and history of the Palestinian people.”

“Palestine is committed to preserving this unique site for the benefit of mankind,” Abbas said.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel quit UNESCO in 2019, accusing the UN cultural agency of being biased against it. Tel Aviv, however, remains a party to the World Heritage Committee.

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