Middle East

UNESCO designates ancient Jericho ruins as World Heritage Site, sparking Israeli ire

By Sarah al-Sirgany and Jomana Karadsheh, CNN

Jerusalem CNN  —  The United Nations World Heritage Committee voted Sunday to list the Tell es-Sultan archaeological site in Jericho as a “World Heritage Site in Palestine.”

The decision was made at a conference held in Riyadh, UNESCO said on its official X account, formerly known as Twitter.

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the decision, while Israel expressed ire.

The newly designated site, located in Jericho in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, contains ruins dating back to the ninth millennium BCE. Jericho itself is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world.

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Affairs Ministry welcomed the decision, lauding it as an acknowledgment of Jericho’s “cultural, economic, and political significance” and a testament to “10,000 years of human development,” according to a statement published on Sunday.

PA Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rula Ma’ayah underscored the significance of the decision, calling the site an integral and valuable part of diverse Palestinian heritage, according to a statement sent to CNN on Sunday.

“The outstanding universal value of the site qualifies it to be one of the World Heritage sites,” Ma’ayah said.

But the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its disapproval of the decision, saying it saw the action as “another sign of Palestinians’ cynical use of UNESCO and politicization of the organization.”

Located in the Jordan Valley, Jericho is situated between the Jordan River to the east and Jerusalem to the west.

In 2010, Jericho celebrated being the oldest walled city in the world, dating back to the modern Stone Age.

CNN’s Kareem Khadder and Richard Greene reported from Jerusalem. Eyad Kourdi wrote in Gaziantep, Turkey.

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