WARSAW, Poland — Officials have opened the 41st annual UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s conference in Poland.

The meeting will run through July 12 and debate contentious issues like Palestinian motion to deny Israel sovereignty over Jerusalem and the level of protection Poland gives its pristine Bialowieza forest.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Polish Culture Minister Piotr Glinski opened the session Sunday in a ceremony at the Renaissance Wawel Castle in Krakow, a historic city on the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Earlier, they viewed Poland’s most precious painting, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine,” which the state bought last year from the aristocratic Czartoryski family.

The government says the session is among Poland’s top cultural events this year. It brings together 21 member states, more than 170 observer nations and many non-governmental organizations.