The Palestinian Authority (PA) has gone over the heads of Israel and the US, according to Walla!, by unilaterally turning to UNESCO, despite terms against such a move in the US framework laid out by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The PA reportedly turned to the international body over two weeks ago and requested the Palestinian Arab village of Batir be recognized as a "world heritage site" at risk, according to the Israeli daily.
The site is the location of the ancient Beitar and was the final site of the Bar Kochba rebellion, the Jewish last stand against the Roman invaders after the destruction of the Second Temple.
The PA already sent a delegation to Paris to propose Batir as a potential World Heritage site in 2012, according to Xinhua. PA representative Hamadan Taha stated at the time that the reason was to preserve its ancient irrigation system and historic terraces. The proposal was rejected, however, because the formal submission of the site to the list was too late for the yearly deadline.
Walla! links this year's submission attempt with the ongoing peace talks between Israel and the PA, citing unnamed sources in Jerusalem who say the PA has been building a "backup plan" in the event that talks stall, given threats by the European Union that there will be "consequences" in such a scenario.
The move, if true, would constitute the first international appeal by the PA, and renege on a term of the peace talks not to bring international bodies into the conflict until an interim agreement has (or has not been) reached.
The report, if true, corroborates previous threats by PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, who threatened to go to the UN and make another bid for Palestinian statehood in December.
Indeed, since the UN decision in November 2012 which recognized the PA as a “non-member observer state” in the international body, the PA has threatened several times that if peace talks fail, it would turn to international institutions and seek to sue Israel in the International Criminal Court.