State of Conservation
Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls
(Jerusalem (Site proposed by Jordan))
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
- Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure
- High impact research / monitoring activities
- Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
- Management activities
- Management systems/ management plan
- Other Threats:
Natural risk factors; Deterioration of monuments
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Natural risk factors
- Lack of planning, governance and management processes
- Alteration of the urban and social fabric
- Impact of archaeological excavations
- Deterioration of monuments
- Urban environment and visual integrity
- Traffic, access and circulation
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
(cf. Document CLT 82/CH/CONF.015/8)
“[…] the situation of this property corresponds to the criteria mentioned in the ICOMOS note and, in particular, to criteria (e) (significant loss of historical authenticity) and (f) (important loss of cultural significance) as far as "ascertained danger" is concerned, and to criteria (a) (modification of juridical status of the property diminishing the degree of its protection), (b) (lack of conservation policy) and (d) (threatening effects of town planning) as far as "potential danger" is concerned. […]”
Corrective Measures for the property
Not yet identified
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2017
Total amount granted: approximately USD 5,000,000 (since 1988)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 1
Total amount approved : 100,000 USD
|1982||32-month expert services to undertake an architectural ... (Approved)||100,000 USD|
Missions to the property until 2017**
February-March 2004: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM mission; from September 2005 to May 2008: 6 experts missions within the framework of the elaboration of the Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem; February-March 2007: special World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM mission sent by the Director-General of UNESCO for the issue of the Mughrabi ascent; August 2007, January and February 2008: missions for the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism; March and December 2009: World Heritage Centre missions; December 2013, October 2014, February 2015 and June 2015: project missions
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017
The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Site proposed by Jordan) was inscribed, as a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, on the World Heritage List in 1981. It has been further inscribed since 1982 on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
A report was provided to the World Heritage Centre by the Israeli Permanent Delegation to UNESCO on 6 February 2017. A joint report was provided to UNESCO by the Jordanian and Palestinian Permanent Delegations on 16 May 2017. These reports are available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/148/documents/.
I. Report by the Israeli authorities
It is to be noted that since 1967, the Old City of Jerusalem has been de facto administered by the Israeli authorities. The report submitted on 6 February 2017 underlines that it refers only to new actions taken or ongoing processes in the areas inside the Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem – intra muros sites. The report presents a wide range of activities. Most of them are similar to those mentioned in the 2016 report and the previously reported activities are therefore not included in the present document. Updates are summarized hereunder:
a) Overall plans and development
Regarding town planning, the report informs about detailed plans in the Old City and notably about a local plan for the construction of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation administrative building which received validation in 2016.
Regarding physical infrastructure, design and execution, the report provides a list of upgrading of infrastructures. It informs notably that two of the wider public projects, Public Infrastructures renewal and streetscape improvement along Hagai (El Wad) Street as well as Installation of Interpretation and Orientation Signage through the Old City, were concluded in 2016. The report also indicates that next comprehensive public space improvement projects are to implemented in 2017 in the Christian and Armenian quarters. It furthermore underlines that management and maintenance activities in the Old City as well as accessibility improvement works have expanded.
b) Archaeology and conservation activities
The report mentions that ongoing conservation and repair works are conducted by the Islamic Waqf and supervised by Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). In this regard, The report indicates that preservation and conservation works on the Dome of the Rock were conducted in 2016 and informs of ongoing conservation works at Solomon's Stables.
Conservation activities are also reported at the Western Wall compound.
It also provides information on conservation works and activities in the Old City and along its Walls, which includes renovation works and graffiti cleaning; rescue excavations and renovation as well as preservation works in the Jewish Quarter as well as at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The report also provides a list of other conservation works in the Old City, including renovations activities carried out as an initiative of the Islamic Waqf.
Further to the 2016 report, which described “excavation along the foundations of the Western Wall (…) which will help understand the building procedure of the Temple Mount”, the 2017 report provides a list of several reported archaeological and rescue excavations in the Old City and along the Walls, notably in the Muslim and Armenian Quarters. Some of the excavations included in the report are referred to as “salvage excavations“ notably in the Jewish Quarter and Christian quarters.
Finally, the report provides a list of tourism and cultural events that were organized.
II. Report by the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities
The report submitted on 16 May 2017 provides information based on the observations and reports of the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf and the Jordanian National Committee for World Heritage. It presents conservation activities by the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf and by the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif as well as information on measures undertaken in the Old City, reiterating the concern of the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities on these matters.
The content of report is summarized below:
a) Renovation and Conservation activities
The report refers to reported prevention of the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf, from performing renovation works, emergency restorations and stabilization measures to historical structures and to the Mughrabi Gate Pathway.
Furthermore, the report presents a detailed list of activities and projects implemented by the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the Hashemite Restoration Committee notably on the Dome of the Rock, the Al-Jame’ Al-Aqsa / The Qibli Mosque as well as in the Marwani Mosque.
The report also includes a list of conservation and renovation activities undertaken in the Old City, and reported some of them as “stopped” or “banned”. Specific reported damages, notably to several buildings and structures such as the Mamluk wooden gates of Al-Jame’ Al-Aqsa / The Qibli Mosque as well as the Dome of Ascension, are also registered in the report.
b) Archaeology and construction
The report provides an update on constructions, excavations and reported intrusive tunneling actions in and around the Old City, in particular in the areas of the Western Wall and in Silwan. Of particular concern to the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities are demolitions, intrusive constructions, tunneling and extensive underground excavations.
In addition, the report provides several examples of construction projects in the Old City of Jerusalem, in a manner that negatively affects the function, visual view and skyline of the Old City, notably for what concerns the tramway adjacent to the Northern Wall and the reported plans to construct a cable car system at the southern walls. Furthermore, the report expresses concern related to reported aggressions against religious sites and prayer places.
The report also refers to the Resolutions and Decisions taken in this regard, notably by the United Nations.
The report adresses several recommendations notably with a view to ensuring the implementation of Resolutions and Decisions taken by UNESCO.
III. The Mughrabi Ascent
a) Expert meeting
Since its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), the World Heritage Committee has repeatedly asked “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.” (Decision 31 COM 7A.18). Two such meetings took place in Jerusalem on 13 January and 24 February 2008.
UNESCO convened a technical meeting at its Headquarters in 2012, however neither examination nor discussion to reach a consensus on the design of the Mughrabi Ascent could take place on this occasion.
Another meeting was foreseen to take place at the World Heritage Centre in May 2013. However not all the parties concerned were in a position to attend. Since then, the World Heritage Committee has deplored the fact that the meeting of experts on the Mughrabi Ascent had not taken place.
Should such a meeting take place, the Secretariat will report on it such a meeting to the World Heritage Committee accordingly, either through an Addendum or orally.
The information provided in the report by the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities indicates reported “Systematic Demolition of the Magharbeh Gate Pathway (MGP) 2004-2016”. It refers notably to reported extensive “aggression against the MGP” by many constructions, excavations, demolitions, expansions of prayer areas as well as underground tunneling beneath the MGP.
IV. UNESCO operational projects
The Norwegian Government and UNESCO signed in December 2011 an agreement for the project “Ensuring the sustainability of the Centre for the Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts of the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem” to build capacities of the staff of the Centre in the preservation of Islamic manuscripts. The stakeholders are currently discussing a possible new phase of the project to be implemented from 2017 onwards.
The project “Safeguarding, Refurbishment and Revitalization of the Islamic Museum of the Haram al-Sharif and its Collection” started in 2008 with funding from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The project is currently on hold as it requires additional funding to complete the proposed museographical and scenographical planning, which was approved in March 2015 by the Awqaf authorities. A follow-up mission took place in June 2015. The re-opening of the Museum depends on the availability of funds, and is foreseen beyond 2017.
V. Reactive Monitoring mission
The World Heritage Committee requested at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011), 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012) sessions respectively, “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”. However, no agreement could be reached between the concerned parties on the Terms of Reference of the mission which was planned to take place in May 2013.
Since then, the World Heritage Committee has reiterated the request of the dispatch of the mission. In case it would take place, the Secretariat will be reporting on such a mission to the World Heritage Committee accordingly, either through an Addendum or orally.
VI. Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism
The “Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism”, requested by the UNESCO Executive Board at its 176th session and by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), has been applied to the Mughrabi Ascent since then. Consequently, nine reports were prepared by the World Heritage Centre and forwarded to the concerned parties and the members of the World Heritage Committee. At its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011), the World Heritage Committee decided to expand the mechanism to the entire Old City of Jerusalem and, thus, 7 reports were prepared respectively in December 2011, March 2012, February 2013, March 2014, April 2015, April 2016 as well as in May 2017 and transmitted to the members of the World Heritage Committee and the concerned parties.
 The issue of the archaeological excavations carried out since 1967 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 an occupied territory.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.36
The Draft Decision will be presented to the World Heritage Committee during the session.
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).