Culture v politics

With the US pulling its $80m funding from UNESCO because the Palestinians have been given a seat at the table, it seems like a good opportunity to revisit the sort of places that might suffer, so here's some of my photos of World Heritage sites from around the Middle East. [slideshow]

Of course the US can do what it wants with its money, but the fears expressed by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and has described it as "dangerous",  seem overstated to me.

Palestine recently gained partnership status at the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, allowing it to speak in debates but not vote. It’s now likely to turn its attention to other bodies such as the World Trade Organisation. Neither the world nor Israel will come to an end as a result.

All this also seems like a golden PR opportunity for another country to step in and offer up the funding the organisation has lost. Qatar wouldn't even notice an extra $80m leaving its public purse and it would help with its soft power diplomacy (after its military adventures in Libya). Or France, which already hosts UNESCO, might want to cement its position after playing such a strong role in Libya too... (I'm just talking in Middle East terms as it's a Middle East problem which sparked it all off)

Incidentally, Palestine is already a member of the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and is recognised by 127 countries (21 of which don’t recognise Israel).

For more info on the World Heritage sites see the UNESCO World Heritage list and for some more photos of them have a look at my other website.