Fayyad: UNESCO move first step to statehood
Published Saturday 07/07/2012 (updated) 18/07/2012 19:08
PA premier Salam Fayyad addressed several hundred Palestinians who
gathered in Bethlehem's Manger Square adjacent to the Church of the
Nativity on Saturday to celebrate UNESCO's decision.
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Saturday that UNESCO's inclusion of the Bethlehem Nativity Church as a world heritage site is the first step on the path to Palestinian statehood.
Fayyad addressed several hundred Palestinians who gathered in Bethlehem's Manger Square adjacent to the church to celebrate the June 29 decision.
The ceremony was also attended by Tourism Minister Rula Maayeh, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki and the Governor of Bethlehem Abdul Fattah Hamayel.
The World Heritage committee voted for Palestine's application, including the church and three surrounding monasteries in addition to a pilgrimage route, despite US and Israeli opposition.
Frustrated with the lack of peace talks, the Palestinian leadership is seeking international recognition of its governance of the occupied territories.
Last year, UNESCO granted Palestine full membership, a decision seen at the time as a boost to their bid, since largely stalled, to win UN recognition of statehood in the absence of peace talks with Israel.
Israel and the United States, which later cut off its $80 million annual funding of UNESCO, condemned the decision, saying negotiations -- which collapsed in 2010 -- were the only path to statehood.