Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) released the following statement following the vote at a meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage committee in St. Petersburg, Russia approving the Palestinian Authority’s request to receive an emergency designation for the Church, bypassing the normal 18-month process. The statement follows:

“We all know that this vote today was not about the Church of the Nativity, as the resolution was opposed by the Church's religious caretakers. Rather, this was just another attempt by the Palestinians to make an end run around direct peace negotiations with Israel. The Palestinian strategy of pursuing unilateral UN actions is flawed and dangerous and only moves the parties further away from peace. I'm particularly disappointed with the actions of France, the only European country to vote in favor of this resolution.”