RAMALLAH, WEST BANK – The United Nations cultural agency on Friday listed the Palestinian village of Battir as a World Heritage site in danger, raising hopes among residents that this will protect their community against Israel’s West Bank separation barrier.
Battir, located just south of Jerusalem in the West Bank, is known for its ancient farming terraces and an irrigation system from Roman times.
In listing Battir, UNESCO said it faces “irreversible damage,” citing “the start of construction of a separation wall that may isolate farmers from fields they have cultivated for centuries.”
Israel began building a separation barrier in the West Bank more than a decade ago, saying it is meant to keep out Palestinian militants. The Palestinians say the barrier has turned out to be a land grab because it slices off almost 10 percent of the West Bank.
The route of the barrier in the Battir area is being argued before Israel’s Supreme Court.
The lawyer representing village residents, Ghiath Nasser, said he hopes the UNESCO recognition will help sway the judges to rule in favor of them.
Friends of the Earth Middle East, an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian group that joined the appeal to the high court against the barrier, said Israel needs to find another solution in this part of the West Bank.