Ambassador Dr. Omar Awad Allah
cultural rights are basic human rights, especially that they are under a strategic threat from Israel, the colonial occupation authority and the apartheid system, just like other political, economic and social rights.
Palestinian narrative, history, heritage, and the entire Palestinian cultural heritage are under direct threat from the Israeli colonialism. As we commemorate 75 years of the Palestinian Nakba, in which Israeli colonialism and its accomplices, tried to falsify history, and eradicate the Palestinian national identity, distort the narrative, steal antiquities, and destroy Palestinian heritage sites. The civilization that strikes deep into the history of more than 10,000 years of civilization, starting from the Canaanite Arabs, and continues to the present in a wonderful cohesion between land, history and man, made the Palestinian land and identity a signifies a bond of our noble people. However, the cultural life of the Palestinian people had the greatest role in preserving and reviving culture and its heritage, not only in Palestine but in the region in general.
Our Palestinian people existence in their land without interruption, despite the Nakba, the occupation, and the persecution that suffered by our people played a great role in refuting and confronting the Zionist narrative. Moreover, our people, with his steadfastness, struggle, and unity, has thwarted all conspiracies that aimed to turn them into a group of miserable refugees and displaced persons. The Palestine Liberation Organization, the only legitimate representative, also was the greatest contributor in preserving the rights of our people, including political and cultural ones, and restored their status among the world nations. Just as the phoenix rises from ashes, our people rose from the ashes of the Nakba in a myth that engraved their survival and re-launch with their politicians, scholars, writers, and creative artists.
What distinguishes the Palestinian people is their rich cultural heritage, history, land, and civilizations, and their land that hosted the Abrahamic religions. As archaeologists say, all of Palestine is a historical heritage and a world heritage known for its originality and unique status, and it has an Outstanding Universal Value.
Moreover, the cultural heritage is an additional testimony to the falsity of the Zionist and Israeli narrative. All excavation evidence proves that this land is Palestinian. Even the mythology relates to the Palestinians and Canaan, and the Canaan deities of Baal, El, Ishtar, and Anat.
Therefore, in the war of narrative and rights, the importance of protecting and preserving this rich heritage is renewed. This requires concerted national efforts, both official and unofficial, governmental and non-governmental, and classical and non-classical diplomacy, by building on the historical Palestinian cultural heritage.
Hereby, I wish to draw your attention to the important role played by diplomacy in protecting the Palestinian cultural heritage and the role of the overseas Palestinian communities; through diplomacy exercised by embassies of the State of Palestine and through work with UN and international organizations concerned with science, culture and education, such as UNESCO, the WIPO Intellectual Property Organization, and other UNESCO conventions, and human rights conventions that deal with cultural rights and education.
The State of Palestine is working to register Palestinian heritage sites on the World Heritage Lists, pursuant to the provisions of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, to preserve them from vandalism and destruction. Sites registered so far on the UNESCO lists as endangered sites include the city of Jerusalem and its walls, the Old City in Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque. And as the Church of the Nativity was also registered in Bethlehem and Battir, Jericho will be registered next September.
Palestinian intangible heritage has also been recorded, such as â€śweaving and embroideryâ€ť and soon the Palestinian â€śdabkehâ€ť will also be enrolled. Work is underway to include all Palestinian practices, traditions, knowledge and skills on the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, in accordance with the provisions of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, to preserve the authenticity of the thousands-years tangible and intangible Palestinian heritage material for thousands of years.
Palestine defends the rights of its people by adopting resolutions of international organizations, such as those of UNESCO, on education and its Israelization, falsifying the Palestinian curriculum on Jerusalem, and the targeting of Israel and its illegal occupation authority of cultural and educational institutions in Jerusalem, Gaza and other Palestinian cities, excavations and the systematic destruction of Palestinian heritage, as well as its violation of international conventions, especially the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, and the Convention on the Prohibition and Prevention of Import, Export and Transfer Illegal ownership of cultural property.
Usually, this important effort is accompanied by a diplomatic battle involving the embassies of the State of Palestine, to urge countries to vote in favor of Palestinian suggested resolutions or to register sites on heritage lists, supported by a fact sheet, in which the Israeli false narrative is nullified and thwart its effort to prevent us from establishing our historical, cultural and legal rights.
The registration and success in voting on Palestinian resolutions is also accompanied by an introductory and media campaign about the sites that have been registered and the content of these resolutions. These efforts are undertaken by our embassies abroad with the governments of the host countries, the public, and with the relevant institutions. Here as well, non-classical diplomacy and popular diplomacy intervene through the work of communities and non-governmental institutions. This is done in holding exhibitions and reviving Palestinian national events that are performed in national dress and food and an introduction to the Palestinian heritage in addition to artistic works such as films, drawings, cultural works, theatrical and music, as well as through educational exchange and sending teachers to brotherly and friendly countries, teaching Arabic, Middle Eastern studies and history, and providing and exchanging scholarships and cultural missions in many countries, as well.
Palestinian diplomacy is based on two main axes: Political and cultural diplomacy. National leaders, ambassadors, diplomats, and representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization were mostly intellectuals and writers who presented the cause, and the Palestinian narrative, through their writings and translations. Hence, Israel targeted them for assassination. Contemporary Palestinian diplomacy should be a continuation of the efforts of our first diplomats. On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an encyclopedia was published, with the support of the United Nations, of 100 globally influential Palestinian personalities in culture, arts, science and other important areas of humanity since the beginning of the last century.
The development of diplomatic work using modern tools and technology to serve the national goals in ending the Israeli colonial occupation; establishing the Palestinian narrative and preserving the cultural heritage; calling on states and international organizations to enforce international agreements and international law, to provide protection for the land of Palestine and its people, and its intellectual and civilizational heritage, as it is a land of world heritage, both cultural and natural, and of rare and exceptional value that requires preservation and protection, and it is the land of heavenly messages, and the path of the prophets. States must fulfill their obligations, including banning the import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property illegally seized by the occupation from the land of the occupied State of Palestine, and returning them. States must also prosecute Israeli war criminals and those who deal with antiquities stolen from Palestine, including countries that disallow stolen heritage to be displayed in their museums, as happened previously with the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were stolen by the occupation authority in 1967 from the Palestine Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. Protecting the Palestinian human, the protector of this culture, heritage, and history, remains the priority of political and diplomatic action. Behind this cultural heritage and the rocks and antiquities of Palestine, there is a people rooted in their land, leading a brave struggle towards freedom and independence.