The southern occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil has been officially named the World Crafts City by the UNESCO. It is the first time that a Palestinian city has been granted the title by the UNESCO’s World Crafts Council.
The Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami al-Hamdallah, said during the celebration the nomination is an honor for every Palestinian craftsman in al-Khalil. He said the title comes at a time when Israeli crackdowns against Palestinian citizens and craftsmen in al-Khalil have reached a peak, particularly in the Old City.
Al-Khalil Mayor Daoud al-Zaatari spoke out against the Israeli attempts to prevent the Palestinians of al-Khalil from being granted the title by banning two members of the UNESCO’s four-member international assessment staff to enter the city.
He said the nomination will boost the participation of al-Khalil’s craftsmen in international exhibitions, prop up internal and external tourism, and back up Palestinians’ efforts to expose the originality of their historical legacy.
The Palestinian Cabinet approved the establishment of a five-thousand-square-meter compound for crafts and traditional industries in al-Khalil at an estimated cost of $2 million. Al-Khalil is an ancient Palestinian city that has more than 6,000 years of history and heritage. It is the West Bank’s economic capital, famous for its porcelain, pottery, glass, olive wood and leather tanning industries. It is also the largest, with approximately 200,000 residents.