The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO announced the victory of the Palestinian site “Tel Sultan – Jericho” with a majority of votes, making it the first Arab site to be added to UNESCO’s list in this 45th session held in Riyadh.
The Permanent Delegate of Palestine to UNESCO, Munir Anastas, expressed his pride in this historical success, which “credited all Arabs, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which made every effort to host the session and spared no effort to support the Palestinian cause in all international platforms,” according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Dr. Ahmed Rajoub, the Director-General of World Heritage in Palestine, explained that Jericho is an example of the oldest and first socio-political administrative system in the world. It is not only the oldest walled city but also the lowest ancient walled city in the world, with the oldest political, social, economic, and religious system in the world, proving its role in the development of human civilization.
Dr. Rajoub noted that this cultural victory has other economic and social dimensions. Palestine lacks resources, but it is rich in its cultural, religious, and natural heritage. Listing Jericho as a World Heritage Site will bring economic benefits through increased tourism, improve the livelihood of the local community, and positively impact the Palestinian economy.
Since the early stages of the committee’s meeting in Riyadh, Arabs and Palestinians have been awaiting the decision of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) regarding the recognition of Jericho as a World Heritage site in the meeting held between September 10 and 25, amidst opposition from the Israeli side.
Palestine claims that its archaeologists confirm that Tel Sultan is the oldest fortified city in the world, a site that tells the story of human history through remains dating back to the Neolithic period and continuing until the Byzantine era. It features a massive circular tower and protective walls. The site has been excavated for over a century and has revealed remains of a fortified city claiming to be the oldest inhabited city on this planet, which encouraged the international organization to classify it on the World Heritage list.
The Palestinian Delegate to UNESCO emphasized that ancient Jericho will be the fifth Palestinian site on the World Heritage list, noting that three of these sites are on List of World Heritage in Danger and two are on the regular list. He noted that the most important site among these from the perspective of historical significance to Abrahamic religions was the Old City of Jerusalem.