The following statement is issued by the Chairman of UNESCO's Executive Board, Mr Zhang Xinsheng.
1. The six Arab members of the Executive Board addressed a letter to the Chairman of the Executive Board on 14 February 2007, requesting that a special session of the Board be held on the subject of the activities under way at the site of the Old City of Jerusalem, in accordance with Rule 3 of the Rules of Procedure of the Executive Board.
2. Following this request, the Chairman immediately started consultations with the members of the Bureau, the President of the General Conference and the Director-General of UNESCO.
Deeming it essential that wider and face-to-face consultations be undertaken to speed up the process, the Chairman invited H. E. Mr. Hector Gros-Espiell, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Uruguay to UNESCO to act on his behalf, as the facilitator in the consultations with all parties concerned.
Pending receipt of the official report of the UNESCO technical mission, the Chairman has been provided by the Director-General with a preliminary debriefing on the outcome of this mission. The official report will be available shortly. The ongoing consultations in this regard will hopefully shed light on this question.
3. The Chairman recalls in particular 164 EX/Decision 3.5.4 welcoming, inter alia, "the continuing efforts of the international community for the protection of cultural and natural heritage" and expressing "strong determination and commitment with regard to the protection and preservation of culturally important monuments and sites and affirming the significance of transmitting these monuments and sites to future generations".
Reaffirming the crucial importance of the protection of cultural heritage as well as its preservation for humanity, the Chairman solemnly calls for respect of all relevant decisions and resolutions of the Executive Board and the General Conference as well as of the convention and all decisions and recommendations of the World Heritage Committee, and all other United Nations resolutions regarding the Old City of Jerusalem.
4. In his endeavor to ascertain the effective approach to this issue, the Chairman strongly appeals for further dialogue among all the parties concerned, accentuating that dialogue is an effective instrument to bolster harmony, and only through open dialogue and consultations can an appropriate solution be found.
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