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UNESCO adds sites to World Heritage list

July 12, 2012|By David Ng
  • The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the West Bank. The site has gained World Heritage status by UNESCO, despite objections by Israel.
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the West Bank. The site has gained… (Musa Al-Shaer / AFP/Getty…)

The list of World Heritage sites has grown following a recent meeting by UNESCO in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Art Newspaper reported Wednesday that UNESCO added 26 sites to the list for a total of 962 sites around the world.

The Art Newspaper said 16 of the 26 new World Heritage sites are from outside North America and Europe. Among the new additions are the site of Xanadu, the capital of Kubla Khan's dynasty, in China and the city of Grand-Bassam in Côte d’Ivoire.

One of the new sites added to the World Heritage in Danger list has already garnered some controversy -- the Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem on what is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. The church is in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and is the first site in the area to make the list since Palestine became a UNESCO member last year.

Israel and the U.S. have objected to the inclusion of the church in the list, according to the Associated Press. A spokeswoman for the Israeli foreign ministry was quoted by the AP as saying that was "a sad day for the World Heritage Committee." A U.S. ambassador to UNESCO said he was "profoundly disappointed," according to the AP.


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