The Palestinian Authority has signed an accord with Christian leaders to repair the roof of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
The £600,000 renovation project will be carried out by an international consortium supervised by Italian renovations expert Remigio Rossi, according to a report from AFP.
The roof was last repaired 200 years ago. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Association (UNESCO) said leaks in the roof are threatening wall and floor mosaics in the building that date back to the fourth century.
The work is being paid for by the Palestinian Authority. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said: "This renovation is the first of its kind in the modern history of Palestine and the first of this size to be carried out on the church."
The fourth century church, one of the oldest in the world is believed to be on the site where Our Lady gave birth to Jesus. It is shared by Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox denominations.