chapter  10
World heritage sites, human rights and cultural heritage in Palestine
ByEman Assi
Pages 8

Following the Declaration of Principles Agreement (Oslo Accords) signed between the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Israel in September 1993, the international donor community pledged considerable amounts of assistance to the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The main objective was to provide tangible benefits to the population through improvements in standards of living and increased income, which in turn, it was hoped, would provide an environment conducive to the peace process. In the early years (1994-1995), most donors focused on upgrading and expanding infrastructure.1 In 1996, following outbreaks of violence, Israel imposed strict border closures, which prevented the movement of goods and people and resulted in an economic crisis in the West Bank and Gaza (The Alternative Information Center AIC 2006). Because of this situation, funds were shifted to support employment-creating activities and to support emergency economic assistance (World Bank Report). The conservation of cultural heritage has not been among the most critical priorities for either the donors or the Palestinian authority, except in certain locations where there is a real threat to Palestinian

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cultural identity, as in the case of the Old City of Hebron and the Old City of Jerusalem. For this reason, the international donors have come to see local organisations as playing a significant role as their service provider and project manager where donors set priorities according to their political objectives more than the Palestinian needs.