A United Nations committee has voted to declare ruins of the ancient biblical city of Jericho a World Heritage Site, though details of the vote have angered Israel.
The U.N. World Heritage Committee voted on the move at a meeting in Saudi Arabia, and they declared the ruins of Jericho to be in “Palestine,” a designation Israel rejects. Jericho remains a densely populated city in the West Bank and is among the oldest continuously habituated cities on Earth.
The World Heritage Committee operates under the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO. Israel quite UNESCO in 2019 over allegations that the group was biased against the country.
Jericho’s biblical significance arises from the Book of Joshua, which tells the story of how Israel conquered the city.
Former President Donald Trump’s administration joined Israel in quitting UNESCO in 2019, concurring with the country’s claims of bias.
Critics have denounced UNESCO as a hotbed of anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of east Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.
“UNESCO is among the most corrupt and politically biased UN agencies,” Then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley wrote at the time. “Today the U.S. withdrawal from this cesspool became official.”
President Biden’s administration signaled its intent to rejoin UNESCO earlier this year, however.
A State Department spokesperson said in June that the Biden administration “believes firmly that the United States must be present and active on the global stage wherever U.S. interests can be protected and advanced.”
Those interests include “expanding access to education, preservation of cultural heritage, protection of journalists, shaping best practices for new and emerging technologies, Holocaust education, and much more,” the spokesperson said.
Biden’s administration sought some $150 million in U.S. funding to UNESCO for fiscal year 2024.
Fox News’ Peter Aitken and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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