The terraces of the agricultural town of Battir, located on the West Bank, has become the second Palestinian World Heritage site, declared by the Unesco. The site is located in an area where Israel intends to build a security barrier. The declaration has been seen by different groups as an opportunity to halt the Israeli project.
As full member state of Unesco since 2011, the Palestinian Authority (PA) used an emergency procedure to obtain the declaration. The Battir terraces date back 2,000 years to the Roman era, and if Israel succeeds in building the security barrier, it would harm significantly these structures.
Friends of the Earth had filed a petition to the Israeli High Court to protect the site, arguing that other security measures could be taken which would not imply damages to the terraces. The Unesco declaration has now redefined the case.
According to International Law, the site would have to be preserved and the building of the barrier would imply a legal violation. If the site is declared as endangered, the PA could receive funds and support from Unesco to preserve the Battir terraces.
The announcement of the Battir terraces comes with the newly declared world heritage sites, which range from the Silk Road in Asia to industrial architecture in the Netherlands.