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UNESCO Declares Jericho Ruins a World Heritage Site, Stirs Israeli Conflict

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recently designated the ancient city ruins of Jericho as a world heritage site. This historic decision is being met with some ire from the Israeli government due to the historical and religious significance of the site. The ruins of ancient Jericho are believed to be one of the oldest cities in the world, and have been subject to multiple cultural influences. It became a major city in the twelfth century BCE under the Canaanites, Egyptians, and Israelites, and was home to a wide diversity of religions and customs. Moving into more recent history, in 1948 it became part of Jordan and in 1967 it joined the Palestinian territories. As part of the decision to designate the ancient Jericho ruins as a World Heritage Site, an additional 23 sites were also included, bringing the total number of protected Palestinian sites up to 12. This decision is seen by some as an important step in protecting sites within the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian heritages of the area The Israeli government, however, has been critical of the decision, arguing that Unesco is politicizing the issue and disregarding the historical connection between the Jewish people and the region. They argue that the decision does not take into account the fact that Jericho has multiple ancient remains from multiple cultures. In the face of Israeli ire with their decision, Unesco is standing behind their ruling. While they are open to further discussion of the matter, they state that the decision to designate the ancient Jericho ruins as a World Heritage Site was reached in accordance with the established criteria of the Unesco World Heritage Committee. Whether we accept the decision of Unesco or not, the fact remains that the ancient city of Jericho continues to have great significance in both cultural and religious terms. Through this designation as a World Heritage Site, Unesco has ensured that the beloved ruins of history be preserved for present and future generations.

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