Photo Credit: Wikimedia

On the heels of UNESCO’s decision last week to name the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as “Palestine’s” first World Heritage Site, the UN body voted to list the Nahal Me’arot Nature Reserve as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nahal Me’arot (the Carmel Caves), located on the western slopes of Mount Carmel in northern Israel, are a group of prehistoric caves where early man lived continuously for hundreds of thousands of years. The caves were first excavated in the 1920s and 1930s; tools, animal bones, and human burials found in the Caves have “contributed greatly to the understanding of the physical and cultural evolution of man in the early phases of his existence,” according to a statement on the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

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Nahal Me’arot joins seven other World Heritage sites located in Israel. These are: the Old City of Jerusalem; the Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee; the Biblical Tels of Megiddo, Hazor, and Beer Sheba; the Incense Route – Desert Cities in the Negev; Masada; the Old City of Acre; and the White City of Tel-Aviv.

Of course, the most dubious recent addition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was the Church of the Nativity, not least because it was admitted as a site under a state that does not exist – ‘Palestine’. This was made possible by the UNESCO’s vote last October to admit Palestine as a full member.

“This is proof that UNESCO is acting out of political considerations and not cultural ones,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the time. “The world must remember that the Church of Nativity, which is sacred to Christians, was desecrated in the past by Palestinian terrorists.”

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