The Palestinian Authority says it will seek to have additional religious West Bank sites recognized by UNESCO as endangered World Heritage sites.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki specifically named the Cave of the Patriarchs, a site holy to Jews and Muslims in Hebron where biblical patriarchs and their wives are buried, and Mount Gerizim near Nablus. Gerizim is the home of part of today's Samaritan community, the other portion of which lives in Holon. Gerizim is recognized by the Samaritans as holier than the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and they conduct sacrificial rituals there even today.
Last week, UNESCO approved the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as an endangered site in a move Palestinians hailed as a key step toward statehood. Despite the fact that world heritage sites have seemingly little to do with politics, all sides view the approval process as political. The United States and Israel dismissed the move as cynical politicization of the cultural body.
Malki said the church's recognition was the start of a "long term project."
Israeli government spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed the plan to add more sites as "pure propaganda." He hoped UNESCO would reject the move.