The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.
UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has approved a Palestinian bid to place the church on its list of World Heritage Sites.
The move has prompted accusations from the USA and Israel the decision is political which Palestinians reject.
“We believe that this is a first step towards the protection of this vast and rich heritage in Palestine – cultural, human, religious heritage, of which we are guardians, and we hope to be able to use this in order to exercise our right to defend our culture, our history, our identity,” explained Hanan Ashrawi who is a member of the Executive Committee of the Organisation for the Liberation of Paletine.
The church will be entitled to UN protection and funding, though experts who prepared a report for the bid said the site was not in imminent danger of destruction.
Israel has questioned the need for it to be registered as an endangered site and see Palestinian moves at UNESCO which granted them full membership last year as an attempt to embarrass Israel on the world stage.