The Palestinians had pressed to have the church and pilgrimage route inscribed as an emergency candidate at the meeting of the World Heritage 21-nation committee in St. Petersburg, Russia.
UNESCO spokeswoman Sue Williams said the committee voted 13-6 on Thursday to put the iconic Christian site on the list. Two nations abstained.
Emergency status for the candidacy meant the Palestinians could take a shortcut to getting the church on the list.
Some nations saw the move as an attempt by the Palestinians to mix politics and culture.
The United States and Israel opposed.