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Annexing archaeology: Will UNESCO take on Israel?


Israel is stepping up its efforts to seize control of Palestinian heritage sites and antiquities in the occupied territories in violation of international law, Palestinian and Israeli archaeologists warned this week.The experts echoed criticisms levelled against Israel in a recent resolution passed by the United Nations' cultural agency, UNESCO, that accused Israel of interfering with major holy sites in occupied areas.A diplomatic storm over the resolution escalated at the weekend, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he was rejecting a French peace plan because of France's support for the resolution. He said it "cast a shadow over the fairness" of the initiative.Archaeologists, however, said the UNESCO resolution underestimated the scope of the problem facing Palestinian heritage sites. The Palestinian tourism and antiquities ministry is preparing to announce a list of 14 major sites in the occupied territories that are in urgent need of protection from Israeli activities.

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