Archive for the ‘the places I would like to go’ Category
Fancy a holiday in Yemen? What about Libya? Iraq,
It’s a tough sell, but tour operators from locations
considered among the world’s most dangerous have been trying
to drum up interest at the world’s biggest travel fair, the
ITB Berlin in the German capital.
Their brochures offer tantalising views of exotic souks,
ancient ruins and breathtaking natural scenery, but curious
visitors usually end up asking about the latest footage of
violence and unrest they’ve seen on the television news.
“OK, you cannot visit all places in Yemen,” conceded Ibrahim
Mohamed Al-Attab, deputy marketing manager of the Yemen
Tourism Promotion Board. Tourists were generally not at risk
in cities, but westerners should avoid crowds, he advised.
Al-Attab, like his counterparts from Iraq and Libya, tried to
stress the cultural and natural attractions of his country,
ravaged by conflicts in the past half century and well off
the beaten track for most travellers.
“But you can visit the city of Sanaa, Socotra island and the
famous ‘skyscraper city’ Shibam, so the most important sites
in Yemen are secure,” he said, referring to the 16th century
mudbrick towers of Shibam.
Among Yemen’s visitors are nature buffs and scientists who go
to Socotra island, home to unique plants and birds, and
archaeologists interested in sites like Sanaa’s Old City,
tourist board marketing officer Ahmed Y.Al-Washali said.
Most come from China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea: “Those
governments don’t give such a high alert.”
He said about a million tourists visited Yemen in 2013,
including Arabs from nearby states.
At Yemen’s stand, tour operators seated under photos of
rugged mountains, exotic trees and a deserted beach handed
out brochures showcasing their country’s cultural heritage.
Travel advice from countries like Britain and the United
States warning citizens to avoid Yemen because of the risk of
terrorism has hurt business, said Al-Attab. Yemen should
persuade such governments to change their advice, he added.
The impoverished Arabian Peninsula state is battling southern
separatists, al Qaeda-linked militants and rebels from the
Shi’ite Muslim Houthi movement.
“We have to change the negative image to a really positive
image of Arab generosity and hospitality,” Al-Attab said.
Libya hopes photos of camels and Roman ruins will persuade
visitors to forget about the lawlessness still gripping much
of the country three years after Muammar Gaddafi was toppled.
One brochure promoted Libya as a “daydream” of desert lakes
surrounded by lush greenery and crystal-clear seawater
lapping isolated, palm-fringed beaches. But officials
acknowledged visitors were still put off by conflict between
the militias who helped to overthrow Gaddafi and his allies.
“The number of tourists coming plummeted after the revolution
as the security situation wasn’t clear and the government
didn’t give out permits for tourists to visit because it
wasn’t sure if they’d come back,” said Abdussamea Almahbob,
undersecretary for tourism, through an interpreter.
“Now it’s trying to make everything better,” he said.
Britain and the United States advise against travel to Libya.
A Briton and a New Zealander were killed in an
execution-style shooting on a beach near Sabratha in January.
Most visitors to Libya are archaeologists drawn by the Roman
ruins or adventurers who take tours of sand dunes.
Abdurrazag Guerwash, head of Winzrik Group which offers tours
to Tripoli and the oasis town of Ghadames, said the eastern
city of Benghazi and southern Libya remained “very dangerous”
but some pockets of the country were safe for holidays.
“Leptis Magna, Sabratha and Ghadames are very safe, very nice
and very controlled areas and there’s a lot of things to
see,” he said, adding most clients were Spaniards or
In 2013 he took 400 people on tours compared with up to 6,000
per month before the war. “We hope it gets better next year,”
Iraqi travel firms and hotels were also seeking business with
posters of Islamic shrines and marsh landscapes.
While insisting the north of the country was safe for
tourists, they found it hard to change people’s image of a
country where nearly 8,000 civilians were killed in political
violence in 2013.
The United States warns against all but essential travel.
Britain makes an exception for the Kurdistan region in the
“It’s difficult to persuade people to go as there is still a
war going on – a civil war,” said Lora El-Jamal from the
Iraqi travel firm Raihana Universal. “People are a bit scared
even though they’d like to go when they see the brochures.”
Iraq is home to some of the holiest sites in Shi’ite Islam,
such as the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf and the Imam Hussein
shrine in Kerbala and other sites around the country. Many
mosques, both Shi’ite and Sunni, have been bombed in recent
Much of the demand to visit Iraq comes from Muslims going on
Article source: http://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/travel/294458/middle-east-north-africa-hotspots-tout-tourists
He was relieved. “If the Russians weren’t here, the government of Ukraine would come and occupy us,” said Vladimir Sukhenko, a retired stage actor. “They would make us speak Ukrainian.”
Fear runs deep in Crimea, nourished by history and propaganda. If some Crimean Russians are quietly angry at the soldiers’ presence, more see them as protectors from a new Ukrainian government in Kiev that, they say, is ready to crush its Russian-speaking population.
“This government in Kiev is illegal,” said Sukhenko, a dashing 77-year-old with wavy grey hair that spills out the back of his cap, and an ingrained habit of kissing women’s hands. Like many in Crimea, he derides the Kiev protesters, who drove the former pro-Russian president from power with demands for more democracy and closer ties to the European Union. “We need to be an autonomous republic.”
Ukraine is facing a potentially crippling geographic and cultural divide, between supporters of Russia who dominate the east and south of the country and western Ukrainians who yearn for closer ties to Western Europe. One side of that divide is starkly visible in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula long craved and cherished by Russia for its strategic location and warm weather.
From the late 1700s until the fall of the Soviet Union, Crimea was almost always under Russian and then Soviet control. Today, most Crimeans can trace their heritage to Russia and some here see themselves as only nominally Ukrainian. Russian is, by far, the dominant language.
So there was barely a hint of public opposition when Russian President Vladimir Putin, furious that an ally had been driven from power in Kiev, quietly dispatched soldiers last week to effectively seize control of Crimea. Because, beneath the geopolitics, many here are simply afraid.
Some, like Sukhenko, fear that their language could be pushed aside. Others have darker fears: of anarchy, or roving bands of Ukrainian right-wing militants, or terrorists who target Russian-speakers.
Ask around, and it’s hard to find anyone who has been a victim of an anti-Russian attack. But it’s easy to find people who believe it is happening.
“We are so scared,” said a middle-aged grocer who identified herself only as Lyudmila, speaking in the decaying Crimean naval town of Novo-Ozerne. Like many Russian-speakers, she believes the protesters in Kiev and the new government are dominated by nationalist militants, and that dozens, or even hundreds, of Ukrainian security forces were murdered by them during the demonstrations. “I’m so frightened of the chaos in Kiev,” she said, weeping in obvious terror. “It might come here.”
Even some Russian-speakers anxious for Crimea to remain part of Ukraine say they are glad the Russian soldiers can protect them if the situation turns ugly.
Reporters and human rights monitors say that while there are ultranationalists in the protest movement, they make up a small percentage of the protesters. Of the nearly 100 people who died in the clashes, the overwhelming majority were protesters.
But Moscow understands these fears very well, and has been carefully cultivating them since the Kiev protests began late last year, with news reports on state television — widely watched here — relentlessly portraying protesters as quasi-Nazi extremists.
“As a result of the violent seizure of power (in Kiev), the country has seen a totally new regime: brazen, cynical and brutal,” said Dmitry Kiselyov on his popular “News of the Week” show recently. He said the new government used “militants, soccer hooligans and neo-Nazis” to enforce its rule in Russian-speaking regions. Putin, meeting with reporters a few days ago, said that “rampaging neo-Nazis” now dominate the streets of Kiev.
World War II-era Soviet newsreels are played and replayed on some channels, with one showing a Nazi swastika spreading across Europe and swallowing up every country in its path. The allegory is clear: the new government in Kiev, and the European Union, want to swallow up Russian-speaking Ukraine. In a country that was savaged during the war, such propaganda resonates deeply.
After President Viktor F. Yanukovich, a native Russian speaker, fled Ukraine in February in the face of violent anti-government protests, Parliament rescinded a 2012 law that had allowed the official use of the Russian language along with Ukrainian. The move upset the country’s many Russian speakers, especially in Crimea.
The country’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, refused to sign the motion into law, but the issue had already played into the hands of Putin, who claimed that Moscow must protect Russian speakers threatened by the new Ukrainian authorities.
“It was like a detonation,” said Alexander Gertsen, head of the history department at Crimea’s Taurida National University.
The question now is just how widely such fears are felt. Certainly many Crimeans are terrified by the changes in Kiev, and welcome the Russian soldiers’ arrival. But there have also been growing whispers of opposition among Russian-speakers.
The Russians are destabilizing the region, and their seizure of power could spark serious violence, a group of Russian-speaking Crimeans told an AP reporter recently in the town of Kerch. With Russia widely expected to create a Crimean puppet state here, few people want to risk angering authorities in Moscow.
Gertsen, the professor, noted Wednesday that Crimea has faced wave after wave of invaders and occupiers over the centuries, and that it’s often not even clear what counts here as stability.
The Soviet dictator Josef Stalin upended Crimea’s social makeup when he expelled the Tatars, the Turkic people who had lived on the peninsula for centuries, en masse into Central Asia in 1944.
Wednesday, Gertsen pointed out, was the 61st anniversary of Stalin’s death, a day that marked one of the most dramatic changes of power in the 20th century, leading to immense changes in the Soviet Union.
But, he said, the effects of what Stalin did are still felt here: “The process that started with his death has yet to finish.”
Associated Press writer Laura Mills in Moscow contributed to this report.
Follow Tim Sullivan on Twitter at http://www.twiter.com/SullivanTimAP
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Article source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/in-crimea-old-fears-combine-with-new-propaganda/2014/03/06/279c8070-a54d-11e3-b865-38b254d92063_story.html
In the last day of my medical mission to Aleppo in
October 2013, I was asked to examine a toddler who had arrived at our hospital
after being shot in the head by a sniper one hour earlier. His name was Hamza
Ramadan, and he was just three years old. His heart was beating, but he
exhibited no other signs of life. I was told that snipers had targeted Hamza, his
mother, and his sister as they tried to sprint through the passage separating
the opposition-controlled east side of Aleppo to the regime-controlled west.
That two-block street has now come to be known as “The
Corridor of Death” (“Maabar Almawet”
in Arabic). Snipers perched on the roofs of three regime-controlled buildings
at the end of the passage have turned the place into a killing ground. Hamza’s
mother and sister were killed instantly. Their bodies were rushed to the
hospital, along with Hamza’s, in the back of a car owned by bystanders. (Ambulances
are a luxury in Aleppo. According to the World Health Organization, more than
75 percent of Syria’s ambulances have been damaged in the conflict.)
Since the start of the first demonstrations in 2011, the
Syrian regime has tried to cast the whole opposition as extremists and terrorists.
This has been an effective strategy, playing into the fears of al Qaeda and jihadists
that are prevalent in the United States and Europe. The more recent influx of
foreign jihadists into Syria has added some legitimacy to such claims. The Western
media has fallen into the regime’s trap, portraying the conflict as a fight
between the government and terrorists — and sometimes implicitly justifying
the regime’s crimes against its own people. The reality, as I saw it, is far more
malicious: The government of President Assad is waging war
not only against an armed enemy, but also against its own population.
My medical mission to Aleppo was organized by the Syrian
American Medical Society (SAMS), a group dedicated to helping the victims of the war. My aim was to serve the victims of war in that ancient
city and world heritage site, now the epicenter of aerial bombing and shelling.
No amount of disaster management or trauma care training could have possibly
prepared me for the brutal reality of the hospital I visited. At the hospital, which was code-named “M-1″ for security reasons, the vast majority of our
patients were local residents injured by shrapnel from barrel bomb attacks or indiscriminate
shelling from fights between rebels and regime troops. But many,
like Hamza, were civilians targeted in the most direct and ruthless way
possible: by snipers.
The use of snipers gives the lie to government
propaganda. Snipers know exactly whom they’re shooting. When snipers look through their telescopic sights at someone’s head or chest, they know if the target is a child or a
fighter. According to the Aleppo Civilian Medical Council, snipers in the “Corridor
of Death” gun down five to 20 civilians every day. Most of the victims die
instantly. Those who survive are likely to suffer lifelong disabilities:
amputations, loss of an eye, or spinal cord injury and paralysis are just a few
on a long list of possibilities. The Oxford Research Group reports
that 11,420 children (aged 17 and under) were recorded killed in the Syrian
conflict by end of August 2013, from an overall total of 113,735 civilians and
combatants killed. One in four of those child deaths were caused by small arms
fire, including children targeted and summarily executed by snipers. Hamza was
one of those unlucky children.
For many citizens of Aleppo, venturing to the other side
of the city is not optional. Some have to take the risk on their daily commutes
to and from work. Others have to venture to the farmer’s market on the eastern
side to buy food and fuel. Still others make the perilous journey to visit
their families stuck on the opposite side of the crossing.
Snipers play an important role in the modern battlefield, especially now that new
technology, such as infrared vision and long-range guns, have made the task of
remote killing much easier. During the Bosnian war, Serbian snipers, who
favored the tall buildings overlooking the infamous Vrbanja Bridge, gunned down
civilians trying to flee the city. In one infamous instance in May 1993, they
shot and killed a young couple, now known as Sarajevo’s “Romeo and Juliet” (he
was a Serb, she was a Muslim). Their bodies lay entwined for five days. The
international media covered such incidents widely. But unlike their counterparts in Sarajevo, Syria’s snipers are acting with relatively little media
attention. Aleppo is not as accessible to journalists as Sarajevo, and Syrian
sniper victims attract little notice. Thus, Assad’s snipers operate with
complete impunity, targeting women and children, and killing just to spread fear,
hatred, and vengeance.
At the start of
the conflict, snipers targeted civilians as part of the regime’s strategy to
disrupt peaceful demonstrations, using mortal fear to discourage people from
joining the nonviolent movement. The Syrian civil war began when the Syrian
security forces, or mukhabarat,
arrested and tortured 15 middle-schoolers in southern Syria in March 2011 in retaliation
for anti-regime slogans the boys had painted on walls. When the people of Daraa
took to the streets to demand the release of the young boys, the snipers were waiting
for them. Government snipers stationed in a tall building nearby killed four protesters and injured dozens of
others. Youtube videos documented the killings, some even capturing
images of the snipers themselves. Snipers also were awaiting early
demonstrators in other Syrian cities. In the first nine months of the crisis,
hundreds of videos documented men, women, and children being shot during
demonstrations, bleeding in rudimentary field hospitals, or dying in vain like this boy who was shot in
Homs in October 2011, or this boy shot in
Damascus. (Warning: Links lead to graphic videos.)
It was clear to the doctors who treated the victims that
the strategy has since shifted: Snipers are no longer merely scaring the
population with the threat of random bullets. They now intend to cause
irreversible harm or death. Aleppine doctors have told me horrific stories
depicting sadistic patterns in the snipers’ targets. The snipers have turned
the killings into a sickening sport. Some of the shooters, probably bored
by long hours of scouring for targets, play games, challenging themselves to
hit two people with one bullet, or picking off stray cats and dogs.
David Nott, a
British trauma surgeon who has previously worked in war zones in Bosnia, Libya,
Chad, Sudan, and the Congo, spent five weeks at M-1, and told the London Times that snipers would chose to aim at
different parts of civilians bodies each day. On the first day, they would aim for the groin; the next day, the neck; the
next, the chest. “From the first patients that came in the morning, you could
almost tell what you’d see for the rest of the day,” Nott reported. “It was a
game. We heard the snipers were winning packets of cigarettes for hitting the
correct number of targets.”
Nott remembers one day when two late-term pregnant women
came into the hospital after being hit by snipers. The babies both died, one
suffering a bullet to the brain. On another day, more than six pregnant women
were caught by sniper fire. “The women were all shot through the uterus, so
that must have been what [the snipers] were aiming for,” Nott commented. “This
was deliberate. It was hell beyond hell.” Nott’s photo of the unborn baby with a bullet lodged in
its head was widely-distributed. The baby and its mother were both pronounced
dead at M-1.
Almost every doctor I met at the hospital told me another
horrific story about a young mother who tried to make the crossing with her two
children. When she hastened through the corridor, holding one child in each
hand, a sniper targeted her 4-year-old son, killing him instantly. She started
screaming in agony. Then a bullet hit her second son, a 3 year-old, and killed
him, too. She sat down between the bodies of her sons, waiting for the sniper to
shoot her… but the shot did not come. He spared her to live a life without her
children, to be consumed by a gnawing emptiness — something snipers have done to
countless Syrian mothers. When she finally arrived at M-1 with the dead bodies
of her two sons, she was in the middle of a complete mental breakdown.
The snipers, and the regime that deploys them, have
succeeded in transforming a peaceful movement for democratic revolution into a
civil war, planting fear and deep psychological scars, displacing tens of
thousands of civilians fleeing for safety, creating hatred among different
ethnic and religious groups, fuelling sectarianism, and attracting extremism. Their
bullets have not only killed my compatriots, but also my homeland. They have assassinated
The United Nations stopped counting the number of those
killed in Syria after the total reached more than 100,000 victims. Syria is
facing a humanitarian tragedy of unprecedented proportions. But Hamza, like the
other 12,000 children who have been killed, is not a number. He was a child, full of
life. Like any other child, he played, laughed, cried, and dreamed. He could
have grown up to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, or even president — but a
cold-hearted government sniper took that chance away from him. The Syrian
regime’s ruthless and relentless slaughter of its own people is a despicable crime.
It must be stopped.
DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images
Article source: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/03/04/the_corridor_of_death
JERUSALEM (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews rallied Sunday in the streets of Jerusalem, blocking roads and paralyzing the city in a massive show of force against plans to require them to serve in the Israeli military.
The widespread opposition to the draft poses a challenge to the country, which is grappling with a cultural war over the place of the ultra-Orthodox in Israeli society.
The issue of army service is at the core of that struggle. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, the ultra-Orthodox, who make up about 8 percent of Israel’s 8 million citizens, largely have been allowed to avoid military service, compulsory for most Jewish men, to pursue their religious studies. Older men often don’t work and collect welfare stipends while continuing to study full time.
The ultra-Orthodox insist their young men serve the nation through prayer and study, thus preserving Jewish learning and heritage, and by maintaining a pious way of life that has kept Jewish culture alive through centuries of persecution.
But the exemption has enraged secular Israelis who say the ultra-Orthodox are not doing their fair share. The issue featured prominently in last year’s election, which led to the establishment of a center-right government that has been pushing for reforms that will require ultra-Orthodox to serve in the army. Parliament is expected to vote on the conscription bill this month.
‘‘The change is beginning,’’ Ofer Shelah, whose Yesh Atid party stands behind the push to draft the ultra-Orthodox, told Israeli Channel 10 TV. ‘‘This (law) will create a deep cultural change in the ultra-Orthodox public.’’
Shelah and his party believe integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the military ultimately will lead to their inclusion in the workforce and help sustain Israel’s economic growth. Israel’s central bank chief, as well as international bodies like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, warn that high unemployment in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors threaten Israel’s economic prospects.
Thousands of ultra-Orthodox streamed toward the entrance of Jerusalem as a heavy haze settled on the gathering. Men clad in traditional black suits and hats bowed and swayed in prayer as others danced in circles. Spectators packed the balconies and roofs of nearby buildings as a loudspeaker blared prayers. Many held signs reading ‘‘the Torah shall not be forgotten.’’ Police said more than 300,000 people attended.
The city began grinding to a halt hours before the rally began. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 3,500 police officers deployed for the rally. He said authorities closed the central bus station and halted nearly all public buses into the city. In addition, public transportation inside the city was being limited from afternoon until night. Some schools and government ministries also closed early.
Usually only men attend such public demonstrations, but ultra-Orthodox community leaders encouraged women and young children to take part. A major thoroughfare in Jerusalem was closed for traffic and reserved for ultra-Orthodox women in accordance with the community’s strict separation of the sexes. Many women, wearing long skirts and head coverings, held prayer books close to their faces as they prayed, while young children ran between them.
‘‘They came out of fear of one thing: that they are going to be changed, that they will be put in a melting pot and changed,’’ ultra-Orthodox lawmaker Israel Eichler told Israeli Channel 2 TV.
According to the draft bill up for a vote in Israel’s parliament, only a fraction of eligible ultra-Orthodox Jews would be expected to serve, said Inna Dolzhansky, spokeswoman for lawmaker Shelah, who is also a member of the committee drafting the bill.
The army would be required to draft an increasing number of ultra-Orthodox Jews each year, with the goal of enlisting 5,200 ultra-Orthodox soldiers — roughly 60 percent of those of draft age — by mid-2017. Israel would grant financial incentives to religious seminaries that send their students to the army, she said.
If the ultra-Orthodox community does not meet that quota by then, the bill calls for mandatory service for ultra-Orthodox Jews and criminal sanctions for draft-dodgers.
Beginning this year, the bill would require all ultra-Orthodox Jews aged 17 and a half to register at army recruitment offices, although not all ultra-Orthodox would be obliged to serve, said Nisan Zeevi, spokesman for lawmaker Yaakov Peri, who has helped draft the bill. He said the law would permit 1,800 ultra-Orthodox Jews to forgo army service for religious studies.Continued…
Article source: http://www.boston.com/news/world/middle-east/2014/03/02/shutdown-jerusalem-for-ultra-orthodox-protest/3NXJSyDOGfwLLWuTMKZuQP/story.html
The School of Chaillot’s opening presentation will be given by a female architect – a premiere. Salma Samar Damluji accepted to take on the lessons on the global topic of the relation between creation, history and heritage – and associated it with a clear focus on territory sustainable development.
Of Lebanese and Iraqi descent, Salma Samar Damluji is a London AA School of Architecture graduate. An architecture PhD, she has led researches in different countries of the Middle East and currently holds the Islamic architecture chair at the American University in Beirut. She has published many books, including several works on the history of architecture in Islamic countries and mud brick architecture, built upon her field studies and encounters with “master builders” that withhold the “building wisdom”. She also serves as a consultant for several building and rehabilitation projects in Middle East.
Salma Samar Damluji has a close relationship with Yemen, where she conducted several missions, especially in the region of Hadramaout, on the issues of city redeployment along the Incense Road, and their specific vernacular mud brick architecture. In 2006, she founded the Daw’an Mud Brick Architecture Foundation that leads restoration projects on buildings such as school, training centers or hotels in this particular region, for which she received the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2012.
To understand her effort, one has to consider her past as collaborator to Hassan Fathy, who was a major influence to her conception of an architect’s role. She humbly calls herself the “instrument of a much broader cause”, which is improving the knowledge and recognition of the “creativity and genius of local architecture” in Yemen. She aims at safeguarding the art of building threatened by the importation of techniques that destroy know-hows and rural-world economy dating back to 3000 years ago that had so far adapted to its environment. Fortified cities and irrigated plains of the Incense Road work as genuine ecosystems that are nowadays threatened.
Still her goal is far from “safeguarding the past at all costs”: she would rather transform than restitute, while at the same time preserving the vernacular building culture. No distinction here between creating and rehabilitating: both of them are architectural gestures. She refrains from saving heritage per se, focusing on rekindling the cultural and economic matrix of an endangered civilization. She is equally interested in the lifestyle in these villages, as it allows her to understand an otherwise “mute” architecture in the case of abandoned neighborhoods. Her effort is thus deeply humanist, in the sense that it takes the inhabitant’s quality of life and living conditions reality as a central focus.
In one word, it is a beautiful example of the leverage effect heritage can have on the social, cultural and economic development of a territory.
Article source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/events/1142
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Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/26/world/middleeast/lawyers-for-american-couple-seek-inquiry-in-qatar.html
WEST BANK – Palestinian officials have filed an urgent request with UNESCO to receive World Heritage status for a West Bank village whose ancient terraces are under threat from the Israeli separation barrier.
The request to put the agricultural community of Battir on the UN cultural agency’s list of protected sites was filed earlier this month, a village official said on Sunday.
“We applied 15 days ago and we heard today that they have accepted (to consider) our application,” said Mahmud Abu Arab, a member of Battir’s village council.
“They will send a delegation to check the area,” he said, without saying when the visit would take place.
Battir was added to UNESCO’s tentative list in 2012, and the UN body will vote on the application to upgrade its status in June.
Battir, which straddles the Green Line just south of Jerusalem, is famous for its ancient terraces and Roman-era irrigation system which is still used by the villagers for their crops.
But the village has come under threat from Israeli plans to erect part of the West Bank separation barrier there, which experts say will irretrievably damage the water system.
The Palestinians won membership in UNESCO in October 2011 and quickly moved to submit a number of sites for recognition, including an emergency application for Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity which was approved in June the following year, despite Israeli objections.
Battir residents are currently locked in a high-profile court battle to change the route of the barrier, which is being led by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) and supported by Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority.
Article source: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=64281