Jerusalem at the crossroads between the watershed route of the Judean Mountains being midway between Nablus and Hebron and the connection from the coastal Via Maris to the Jordan Rift Valley, has historically given it strategic importance. This meeting place between East and West has, over the ages, become cultural as well as physical.
The Old City and Ramparts of Jerusalem is an inscribed site on the World Heritage List. The Ramparts represent the Ottoman boundaries of the 16th century and enclose within it the built sites of the Temple Mount/Haram el-Sharif and the Christian shrines of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Via Dolorosa.
The geo-historic context of the Old City includes the Kidron Valley/the Valley of Jehoshafat and the Hinom Valley encompassed by the surrounding hills - Mount Scopus, Mount of Olives, the Hill of Evil Counsel, and Mount Zion. The water source of Jerusalem is the Gihon Spring/Mary's Well that has proven over the generations to be the focal point for the city and its development, including water installations and aqueducts bearing evidence to the changing sociopolitical patterns of the area.
Jerusalem between these hills, forms a unique witness to the cultural cradle of the Western monotheistic religions, including Jewish sites identified during,the Temple periods, including the City of David Christian sites identified by Queen Helena including Gethsemane, the Church of the Ascension, Bethany, and the site of the Last Supper, and Islamic sites of the Night Journey of Mohammed.
The area outside the built space of the city has developed over the years as a necropolis for Jewish, Christian and Muslim burial. Various forms of burials are evident including rock cut tombs, which form the basis for the beliefs for resurrection to commence from this site.
The extension of the inscribed site will accord with the changes in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention whereby sites may include buffer zones providing the visual and historic context for ongoing site management and conservation. In addition, it is proposed that the site be extended to include Mount Zion as well as those sites that bear a unique testimony to the cultural traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This will help guarantee the conservation of the site from encroaching urbanism and help to eliminate the factors which may endanger those sites.
*: This concerns the property entitled “Jerusalem - the Old City and Ramparts to include Mount Zion” proposed by Israel as an extension to the “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls” inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981, upon proposal by Jordan. The Committee at its 25th Session (Helsinki, 2001) endorsed the recommendation of the 25th session of its Bureau (Paris, June 2001) “to postpone further consideration of this nomination proposal until an agreement on the status of the City of Jerusalem in conformity with International Law is reached, or until the parties concerned submit a joint nomination”. It should be noted that, the UNESCO General Conference in its Resolutions 32C/39 and 33C/50, affirmed that:
“ (...) nothing in the present decision, which is aimed at the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem, shall in any way affect the relevant United Nations resolutions and decisions, in particular the relevant Security Council resolutions on the legal status of Jerusalem”.