A report was transmitted to the World Heritage Centre by the Jordanian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO on 11 February 2011, and by the Israeli Permanent Delegation to UNESCO on 22 February 2011.
I. Report from the Israeli authorities
It is to be noted that since 1967, the Old City of Jerusalem is de facto administered by the Israeli authorities. Therefore, all new constructions and conservation projects are in principle subject to the administrative jurisdiction of the Municipality and usually supervised by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
The report of the Israeli authorities presents a whole range of activities. Most of them are similar to the ones reported on in the 2010 report and will therefore not be repeated in the present document. Updates are summarized hereunder:
a) Planning and related actions
Following the mapping of the state of the various infrastructures, renovations works have been undertaken in Jaffa Gate/Bab el Khalil, the road going from Damascus Gate to the Western Wall and the Armenian Patriarch’s road. Concurrently with the upgrading of infrastructure, the upgrading of facades is on-going on Omar Ben el-Hatab square near Jaffa Gate and will be undertaken in the Jewish quarter in 2011.
A Master Plan for accessibility within the OldCity includes accessible tourist information and street signage, tourist routes, elevators, transport services for the handicapped, public restrooms, etc. A new traffic management plan was also implemented in the OldCity allowing access only to emergency vehicles, public transport and residents. Traffic has decreased accordingly.
A Master Plan for the lighting of the OldCity is being prepared in order to illuminate the City walls and other main monuments.
b) Conservation projects:
Conservation of the OldCity walls continues so as to complete the full rehabilitation during 2011.
The restoration of the “Open Cardo” has been completed, while conservation work will continue on the bedrock beneath it. The conservation of the GermanCrusaderChurch has been completed. The conservation and reconstruction of the façade of the Roman Gate beneath Damascus Gate and the rehabilitation of the public square were carried out, and a survey conducted on the part of the Western Wall called the “Small Kotel”, for works to be undertaken in 2011.
Conservation works will also continue in 2011 on the “Seventh Station”, the facades of the Armenian bridge, the Muristan and the Ecce Homo Arch on the Via Dolorosa.
c) Archaeological works:
The report mentions various archaeological excavations, often linked with building projects. It notes that within the framework of the street upgrading around Jaffa Gate, archaeological excavations were carried out revealing a section of the Roman Decomanus and a part of the upper aqueduct. The remains were documented and recovered.
The archaeological works in the Western Wall tunnels continue, including stabilisation of the tunnels and the completion of the conservation of the Hasmonean tunnel. Numerous vaulted rooms were conserved. Additional excavations were undertaken around the base of the arch opposite Wilson’s arch.
Excavations were also carried out as part of the tourist development of the Archaeological Park of the Ophel gardens extra-muros as well as the clearing of the drainage channel leading from the Siloan pool to the Ophel archaeological gardens, including the stabilisation of the ceiling of the Herodian duct.
d) Construction works
The report focuses on the projects foreseen on the Western Wall Plaza. It indicates that an overall proposal coordinates all plans, surveys and archaeological finds in the area. It also expresses preservation and architectural design principles for the public realm and the proposed buildings and sets out a policy for the plaza. The report also notes that the proposal has been adopted by the Local and District Planning Commissions on 26 October 2010.
Further to a letter from the World Heritage Centre requesting clarifications on this plan, the Permanent Delegation of Israel informed UNESCO that “representation has been made to the courts concerning the validity of these proposals […] and therefore the status of the proposals is still under debate”.
The work concerns notably the Strauss building (additional office space, restrooms and a police station) at the northern side of the plaza, and on the western side an educational institute including offices, an information centre, an auditorium, above antiquities unearthed by the excavations, proposed by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. Another plan for extending and upgrading the Davidson Centre has been initiated as well as a plan for the elevator connecting the Jewish quarter to the plaza to include more functions.
e) Plans and activities at Mount Zion
The report contains a chapter on the projects at MountZion, outside the City walls, indicating that work will start in July 2011. It will improve the circulation among the various sites, parking facilities, repaving, signage, and lighting. Conservation activities and archaeological excavations are being carried out in the area, notably in the complex of the Tomb of King David and the Cenacle. A plan is also being prepared for the area adjacent to the City walls between Zion Gate and Jaffa Gate for the development of an educational garden with an upper archaeological promenade.
The document also reports on work carried out by the Waqf administration within the Haram ash-Sharif, under the observation of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
II. Report from the Jordanian authorities
The report received from the Permanent Delegation of Jordan provides information based on the Jordanian Awqaf Authorities (JAA) observations on the ground. It presents activities undertaken by the JAA and information on the Israeli action in the OldCity. Among the activities of the JAA are the following:
a) Restoration of the plastering and mosaic decoration inside the Dome of the Rock;
b) Restoration of the plaster, stone and marble decoration of the Mehrab Zakariyya in Al-Aqsa Mosque;
c) Rehabilitation of the internal lighting system of Al-Aqsa Mosque;
d) Laying the lead sheet over the roof of the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex;
e) Organization of three training courses on the restoration of the mosaics in the Dome of the Rock by a Jordanian expert;
f) Restoration of the interior marble cladding of the walls of the Dome of the Rock;
g) Completing the restoration of the mortar lining of the masonry walls and ceilings of the fifth colonnade of Al-Marwani Mosque (the restoration of the sixth colonnade was ceased due to the ban imposed on the Jordanian technicians by the Israeli authorities);
h) Study for the restoration of the columns of the Al-Marwani Mosque.
The report also mentions the cooperation with UNESCO for the rehabilitation of the manuscript restoration centre and for the Islamic Museum, and the appointment of four additional staff by the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs (see below). The paragraphs related to the Mughrabi Gate Ascent are reflected below in part VI. In addition, the report indicates that the Jordanian experts noticed fallen stones from the Northern Ottoman wall and that, despite their willingness to implement the emergency restoration and stabilization of the wall, the Israeli authorities announced their intention to undertake the work themselves. In this respect, the Jordanian authorities recall the provisions of the 1954 Hague Convention and the 1994 Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty.
In a second chapter of the report, the Jordanian authorities express their deep concern about the archaeological excavations in the town of Silwan, including the digging of tunnels towards the Al-Aqsa Mosque linking the city and the Haram ash-Sharif compound, causing collapses of buildings above. Other excavations are reported to continue in Al-Ward street, on the Western Wall (Al-Buraq) Plaza, below the offices of the Waqf and other buildings nearby, as well as expanding from the Western Wall tunnel affecting buildings such as Al-Manjaqiah, Al-Umariyyah and Al-Jawhariah schools. The report deplores the building of a synagogue using reinforced concrete walls and columns on Al-Ward street, for which Waqf land was seized near Hammam Al-Ain and Hammam Al-Shifa, as well as the confiscation of the Al-TankaziehMamlukiSchool for police stationning. It notes the transportation of archaeological remains from excavated sites in Silwan and from land adjacent to the Haram ash-Sahrif, including a large antique stone which was moved outside the Knesset in West Jerusalem.
The report raises the issue of the movement restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on the staff of the JAA, the prohibition to transport the necessary restoration materials, to execute the lighting project of the yards of Al Haram ash-Sharif, and to use the Golden Gate building.
III. Action Plan for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem
The remaining funds of the first phase of the Action Plan funded by the Italian Government have been allocated to a new conservation/training project – the Rehabilitation of Al Saha Compound Facades - to be carried out with the Technical Unit of the Franciscan Custodia of the Holy Land. The project’s training component, which is fundamental to improving the conservation skills of local workers, involves testing the Rehabilitation Manual produced in the framework of the Action Plan.
The conservation project of the Saint JohnProdromosChurch, funded by the Leventis Foundation from Cyprus, and implemented in close collaboration with the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate, started in July 2009. The architectural survey was carried out by the experts selected by the World Heritage Centre and the Patriarchate. With the completion of additional work that focused on archaeological research and humidity measures, the detailed restoration project will shortly be finalized.
IV. Brainstorming session
At its 34th session (July 2010, Brasilia, Brazil), the World Heritage Committee adopted Decision 34 COM 7A.20 by which it encouraged “the Director-General to take the necessary measures, in consultation and cooperation with the concerned parties, to reactivate and reinvigorate the implementation of the short-, medium- and long-term objectives of the Action Plan, including training, education and cultural activities, and the preservation of sites and monuments of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls as inscribed on the World Heritage List”.
The Director-General invited Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities to send experts to a “brainstorming session” at UNESCO Headquarters on 14 October 2010. The aim of this session was to discuss the means to reactivate the UNESCO Action Plan for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as the potential framework for the Terms of Reference of the reactive monitoring mission requested by the World Heritage Committee.
The group of experts, committed to the conservation of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, and to maintaining its “Outstanding Universal Value”, recommended the following priority actions:
a) building confidence and find ways to establish cooperation;
b) updating the Action Plan, its work plan and timetable;
c) With reference to paragraph 11 of Decision 34 COM 7A.20, identifying appropriate mechanisms for UNESCO (e.g. a technical team and/or unit) to improve technical assistance for the implementation of the Action Plan and the safeguarding of the values of the site, by providing advice and support for the process of granting permits and facilitating safeguarding work and site access;
d) Develop awareness-raising programmes, academic cooperation and cultural activities, targeting towards youth and women.
The World Heritage Committee had also requested “a joint World Heritage Centre/ICCROM/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission” to the property as referred to in the Operational Guidelines to assess and advise on progress made in the implementation of the Action Plan and, in cooperation and consultation with the concerned parties, to identify appropriate operational and financial mechanisms and modalities to strengthen technical cooperation with all concerned parties in the framework of the Action Plan”. During the meeting of 14 October, a potential framework for the terms of reference of the mission was discussed, and agreed upon. The main purpose of this mission will be to resume contact with the parties concerned so as to reactivate and reinvigorate the implementation of the UNESCO Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem. The participants to the brainstorming session stressed that, as the first step, the foreseen mission should define a new baseline for the Action Plan, by updating the 2004 Report presented to the Director-General, the Executive Board of UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee, as follows:
a) review the on-going or foreseen projects in the property, based on the information provided by the parties concerned, and assess the state of conservation of the property, according to paragraphs 169 to 177 of the Operational Guidelines, and in particular Paragraph 172;
b) assess and advise on progress made in the implementation of the Action Plan to date;
c) hold consultations with the parties concerned with a view to identifying appropriate operational and financial mechanisms and modalities to strengthen technical cooperation with all concerned parties in the framework of the Action Plan;
d) report thereon to the Director-General.
On 1 February and on 1 April 2011, the World Heritage Centre wrote to the Permanent Delegation of Israel to UNESCO requesting to authorize the joint World Heritage Centre/ICCROM/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission and no response was received to this date.
V. Other projects
The project for the development of an Architectural Heritage Preservation Institute in Jerusalem, funded by the European Commission (EUR 700,000), and implemented in partnership with the Welfare Association, has been completed. The Welfare Association has organized a series of training courses and workshops based on the curriculum developed by ICCROM. It also produced two publications and training manuals, created a project database, technical library and web site, and carried out awareness-raising sessions. A final workshop was organized in Jerusalem on 23 February 2011 to review the achievements of the project and discuss future action.
As a follow-up to the project for the establishment of a Centre for Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts, located in the Madrasa Al Ashrayfiyyah within the Haram al-Sharif, a capacity-building project, with funding from the Organization’s regular programme (USD 190,000) is underway in order to provide training to new and existing staff in the fields of paper restoration and electronic inventorying. The objective is to ensure the long-term conservation of the Madrasa’s invaluable collection of manuscripts and other historic documents.
Following the recruitment of four permanent staff by the Jordanian authorities, the development of the project for the Safeguarding, Refurbishment and Revitalization of the Islamic Museum of the Haram ash-Sharif and its Collection, funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (USD 1,130,000), which started in 2009, is progressing. The Museum’s staff participated in the first training module in inventorying the museum’s collection in January 2011. UNESCO is currently in the process of procuring basic computer equipment that will be used to undertake the electronic inventory.
VI. The Mughrabi Ascent
Since it 31st session (Christchurch, New Zealand, July 2007), the World Heritage Committee repeatedly requested “the World Heritage Centre to facilitate the professional encounter at the technical level between Israeli, Jordanian and Waqf experts to discuss the detailed proposals for the proposed final design of the Mughrabi ascent, prior to any final decision”. Two such meetings took place in Jerusalem on 13 January and 24 February 2008 but unfortunately, no other meeting took place since that date.
In their report of January 2011, the Israeli authorities indicate that: "Following the decision of the National Council for Planning and Construction, an alternative plan for the Mughrabi ascent was prepared in order to maintain the authenticity and integrity of the site reflected in the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee and its Advisory Bodies. The Plan was approved by the District Planning Commission (31.10.10) and the process of obtaining a building permit is now underway."
Following the request of the World Heritage Centre, the revised plans were transmitted to the World Heritage Centre on 2 May 2011. They will be examined by the Advisory Bodies.
In their report, the Jordanian authorities noted that the Jordanian experts were able to spend four hours on the site on 23 May 2010, as well as on 8 August and 28 November 2010, to discuss the differences between the proposals of the two parties, but that no agreement has been reached on the design. In a letter dated 10 May 2011, the Jordanian authorities expressed their concern and disapproval of the unilateral steps taken in this regard and stated that “Jordan shall not accept any process that falls short of enabling it to fulfil its right to safeguard Al-Magharbeh Gate Pathway and its walls”.
The “Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism”, requested by the UNESCO Executive Board at its 176th session and by the World Heritage Committee is applied for Jerusalem with regard to the Mughrabi ascent since the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee. Nine reports were prepared by the World Heritage Centre in this respect and forwarded to the concerned parties and the members of the World Heritage Committee.
VII. 185th and 186th sessions of the Executive Board of UNESCO
During the 185th session of the Executive Board, document 185 EX/5 related to the Mughrabi Ascent and document 185 EX/14 concerning the Old city of Jerusalem were presented to the members of the Board. Two draft decisions were submitted by several Member States. Despite considerable effort to reach a consensus, the decisions were put to vote and adopted at a large majority. At its 186th session, the Executive Board also examined these items and adopted decisions by which it “recalls its previous decisions” and “decides to include these items on the agenda of the 187th session of the Executive Board”.
VIII. Draft Decision
The Draft Decision will be presented to the World Heritage Committee during the session.
 The issue of the archaeological excavations carried out since 1967 by the Israeli authorities in the Old City of Jerusalem is also the subject of consideration by the Governing Bodies of UNESCO. These archaeological campaigns are in contradiction with article VI. 32 of the 1956 New Delhi Recommendation on International Principles Applicable to Archaeological Excavations, related to excavations in occupied territory.