Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1981
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger 1982-present
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
(cf. Document CLT 82/CH/CONF.015/8)
“[…] they considered that 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 identified
Not yet identified
Previous Committee Decisions see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/148/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 100,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/148/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount provided to the property: approximately USD 5,000,000 (since 1988)
Previous monitoring missions
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.
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/148/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012
A report was provided to the World Heritage Centre by the Jordanian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO on 31 January 2012 and by the Israeli Permanent Delegation to UNESCO on 30 March 2012.
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), as are also archaeological excavations in and around the Old City.
The report of the Israeli authorities presents a wide range of activities. Most of them are similar to the ones in the 2011 report and will therefore not be repeated in the present document. Updates are summarized hereunder:
The report indicates that besides the Town Planning Scheme of 2000 (not yet deposited) and the Interim Statutory Plan to be discussed shortly, the “Blocks Plan” was developed, with a view to facilitate the obtention of building permits, and to identify “non changeable” parts alongside areas for possible building and development. A new plan for the Jewish Quarter is also foreseen and will examine the viability of adding more living space in the quarter. In addition, a master plan for accessibility for the handicapped is being developed, with specific routes, elevators and inner transport service. A master plan for lighting is also being prepared, including functional lighting of streets and public spaces, of monuments and architectural details; its implementation is to start in 2012 notably by the lighting of the Muristan, the Hurva synagogue, Mount Zion and the Kidron Valley.
b) Conservation and new construction projects
The report indicates that upgrading of façades is continuing, notably inside Jaffa Gate on the Omar Ibn el-Hatab square where infrastructure work is also foreseen. Projects are being prepared for the Armenian Patriarchate road, continuation of the Ramparts Walk, the Roman square under Damascus Gate and the Bab el-Huta neighbourhood close to Herod’s Gate. A large rehabilitation project has been tendered for the main north-south street of the Old City, from Damascus Gate to the Haram ash-Sharif, including infrastructure, façades and sabils (fountains). Work has also continued on the Old City’s gates : New Gate, Lions Gate, Dung Gate and Damascus Gate. Concerning the latter, the World Heritage Centre had requested details further to receiving pictures showing the use of new stones and the reconstruction of elements, which led to consider the work as reconstruction rather than restoration. A report was provided by the Israeli authorities which is currently being examined by the Advisory Bodies.
Besides the issue of the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate (see below, VI), the area of the Western Wall Plaza is the location of large excavations and construction projects. The report from the Israeli authorities confirms the modification of the Strauss Building, the construction of the “Liba House” above the excavations and the upgrading of the Davidson Centre. The World Heritage Centre has addressed several letters in this respect to the Israeli authorities on 1 December 2010, 13 April 2011 and 6 March 2012, recalling paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and requesting all plans and details for the foreseen constructions. On 12 March 2012, the Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO informed the World Heritage Centre by letter that the Israeli authorities consider that “the plans [for these projects] are all compatible with the integrity and authenticity of the Old City of Jerusalem as a World Heritage site”.
On5 April 2012, the World Heritage Centre reiterated its request to receive all relevant plans and was told that the request has been forwarded to the authorities. This letter also referred to other projects mentioned in the report, in particular:
· The Jewish Quarter parking area. This project calls for “not only new underground parking but also some commercial uses, hotels and institutes”;
· The Hezekiah pool, where “a plan is now being prepared for the rehabilitation and adaptation of the pool as an open space for residents and visitors, an urban piazza, including possible shop fronts from the main roads of the Christian Quarter”;
· The Tifferet Israel synagogue which “is now being considered for reconstruction”.
The latter is of particular concern as it entails the reconstruction of a large monument. Such reconstruction already occurred some years ago for the Hurva synagogue, a very important landmark in the Old City, which was rebuilt in concrete, as well as for the extension of the Ohel Yitzhak synagogue adjacent to the Hammam Al Ain in the Muslim Quarter.
The report indicates that, as part of the “Blocks Plan” (above), a conservation evaluation and a “Rehabilitation handbook for the Old City of Jerusalem” have been prepared. It is also foreseen to establish an independent conservation team for the Old City whose role will be to work on routine conservation matters.
c) Archaeological excavations
The report mentions various archaeological excavations, linked with building projects, referred to as “salvage excavations”. It notes in particular excavations east of the Ohel Yitzhak synagogue, Al Wad Street, at the Austrian Hospice, in the Jewish Quarter and in the Christian Quarter. The archaeological works in the Western Wall tunnels is also said to continue.
d) Works carried out outside the Old City Walls
The report from the Israeli authorities also mentions works undertaken outside the Old City such as the Zedekiah’s Cave, north east of Damascus Gate and various projects on Mount Zion (Tomb of King David, Cenacle, archaeological excavations, parkings).
The document also reports on work carried out by the Waqf administration within the Haram ash-Sharif “under the Israel Antiquities Authority’s inspection”. These are mentioned hereunder as part of the report received from the Jordanian authorities.
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 Old City, referring to the provisions of the 1954 Hague Convention which both Jordan and Israel are parties to. Reference is also made to the 1994 Peace Treaty between Jordan and Israel.
Among the activities of the JAA presented in the report are the following:
a) Continuing the restoration of the plastering and mosaic decoration inside the Dome of the Rock as well as the restoration of the interior marble cladding of the walls;
b) Continuing laying the lead sheet over the roof of the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex;
c) Continuing the erection of historic tiles (Qashani) on the Dome of the Chain;
d) Renovating Bab Al-Qataneen and some chambers inside the Haram ash-Sharif;
e) Continuing the restoration of the mortar lining of the masonry walls and ceilings of the fifth colonnade of Al-Marwani Mosque;
f) Renovating the Khanatanyah School and library below the Al-Aqsa Mosque;
g) Setting up an early emergency system for the Haram ash-Sharif.
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 for the Museum and five for the Manuscript centre. It also mentions the renovation of 20 schools in Jerusalem. The paragraphs related to the Mughrabi Gate Ascent are reflected below in part VI.
In a second chapter of the report, the Jordanian authorities express their deep concern about the archaeological excavations in the neighbourhood of Silwan; the digging of tunnels towards the Al-Aqsa Mosque linking the city and the Haram ash-Sharif compound, and the collapses of buildings above. Other excavations are reported to continue in Al-Wad 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-Wad street, for which Waqf land was reported to have been seized near Hammam Al-Ain and Hammam Al-Shifa, as well as the confiscation of the Al-Tankazieh Mamluki School 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 also 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 last activity carried out in the framework of the Action Plan, initiated further to the request of the General Conference in 2003 and financed by the Italian Government, has been completed. It consisted in the rehabilitation of the Saha Square and the surrounding buildings in the Christian quarter, testing the Rehabilitation Manual produced during the first phase of the Action Plan. The project has been carried out in partnership with the Technical Unit of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, owner of the buildings.
The preliminary phase of the conservation project of the Saint John Prodromos Church, funded by the Leventis Foundation of Cyprus, and implemented in close collaboration with the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate, has been completed. The detailed restoration project has been finalised and works should start shortly. However, the archaeological explorations revealed structural and sanitation disorders, the solution of which will require all available funds. Additional funding would be necessary in order to undertake the overall restoration project.
IV. Reactive Monitoring Mission
The World Heritage Committee requested at its 34th (Brasilia, Brazil, 2010) and 35th (UNESCO, 2011) 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”. During the brainstorming meeting held at UNESCO Headquarters on 14 October 2010, a potential framework for the terms of reference of the mission was discussed, and agreed upon by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian experts participating. The main purpose of this mission is 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.
On 1 February, 13 April and 27 July 2011 and on 9 February 2012, 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. No response was received to date.
V. Other projects
The agreement for the third and final phase (USD 1,233,000 funded by Norway) of the project for the establishment of the Centre for Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts of the Haram ash-Sharif has been signed by the Director-General and the donor in December 2011. It includes the employment of additional staff members; further targeted training and the organization of field visits and practical internships in order to develop their professional skills in conservation and restoration techniques and facilitate the creation of partnerships with other institutions; as well as the procurement of conservation materials and equipment.
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 staff has been trained in conservation, photography of objects, inventory, English language and informatics. In addition, necessary equipment was purchased and the artefacts are being cleaned and conserved. The electronic and photographic inventory is nearly completed while the storage rooms have been reorganized. UNESCO will be shortly starting to the museology and museography components of the project.
VI. The Mughrabi Ascent
Since its 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.
There is no mention of the Mughrabi ascent in the Israeli report. Therefore, the only information available is the one provided in the report of January 2011 which indicated 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."These plans were forwarded to the World Heritage Centre which requested the translation of the legends of the plans from Hebrew to English in order to allow the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to assess them.
The report from the Jordanian authorities reiterates several quotes from the decisions of the Executive Board of UNESCO and of the World Heritage Committee notably that “no measures, unilateral or otherwise, should be taken which will affect the authenticity and integrity of the site.” The report also states that “Jordan reserves its full right to finance and carry out the design for the Magharbeh Gate Pathway”.
Following the receipt by the World Heritage Centre of the revised designs from the Israeli and from the Jordanian authorities in May-June 2011, and with a view to facilitate the dialogue amongst the parties concerned as requested by the World Heritage Committee and the Executive Board, UNESCO convened a technical meeting at its Headquarters. To this end, invitation letters were addressed to the Jordanian and Israeli Permanent Delegations in March 2012, with a view to facilitate the technical dialogue for the parties to reach an agreement on the design of the Mughrabi Ascent. Only Jordan responded in writing and sent three Jordanian and Waqf experts to attend the meeting that took place at UNESCO Headquarters on 18 April 2012, with representatives of the Word Heritage Centre, ICCROM and ICOMOS. The proposal from the Jordanian experts was presented and discussed during the meeting.
Israel informed the World Heritage Centre verbally that it would not participate to the meeting considering that it lies within the responsibility of the parties concerned to reach an agreement on the design of the Mughrabi Ascent.
Due to the absence of the Israeli experts, neither examination nor discussion of the Israeli proposal took place. Therefore, the situation remains unchanged as the objective of the meeting was to review both proposals in order for the parties to reach a consensus.
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 (Christchurch, New Zealand, 2007). 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. At its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011), the World Heritage Committee decided to expand the mechanism to the entire Old City of Jerusalem and, thus, two reports were prepared respectively in December 2011 and March 2012.
VII. 187th and 189th sessions of the Executive Board of UNESCO
During the 187th and 189th sessions of the Executive Board, documents 187 EX/5 and 189 EX/5 related to the Mughrabi Ascent and documents 187 EX/11 and 189 EX/8 concerning the Old City of Jerusalem were presented to the members of the Board. Following the adoption by consensus of the Decision on the Mughrabi Ascent at the 189th session, the Representative of Jordan made a statement calling for increased cooperation concerning this issue. Concerning the Old City of Jerusalem, despite considerable efforts to reach a consensus, the decisions submitted by several Member States were put to vote and adopted at a large majority.
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.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7A.23.I
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7A.Add,
2. Recalling Decision 35 COM 7A.22, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),
3. Recalling the relevant provisions on the protection of cultural heritage including the four Geneva Conventions (1949), the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954, the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972, the inscription of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls at the request of Jordan on the World Heritage List (1981) and on the List of World Heritage in Danger (1982), and the recommendations, resolutions and decisions of UNESCO,
4. Reaffirming that nothing in the present decision, which aims at the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, 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,
5. Affirming the importance of maintaining the integrity and authenticity in the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls on both sides,
6. Affirms the necessity of cooperation to facilitate access to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, including heritage sites therein, in the context of the UNESCO Conventions for the protection of the cultural heritage, and recognizes the concerns expressed regarding the restricting obstacles imposed by the Israeli authorities on the freedom of access;
7. Thanks international donors for their generous contributions to the UNESCO Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem and both sides of its Walls, and calls upon the international donor community to further support, through extra-budgetary funding, activities aimed at the safeguarding of the integrity and authenticity of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem and both sides of its Walls;
8. Requests the World Heritage Centre to make technical expertise and assistance available for the current and future conservation works foreseen in and around the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, taking into consideration the activities foreseen in the context of the Action Plan, as needed;
9. Regrets the Israeli refusal to comply with the World Heritage Centre and UNESCO decisions and requests Israel to timely cooperate and facilitate the implementation of the World Heritage Committee Decision 34 COM 7A.20 which requests, inter alia, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICCROM/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls;
10. Also regrets the persistence of the Israeli archaeological excavations and works in the Old City of Jerusalem and on both sides of its Walls, and the failure of Israel to provide the World Heritage Centre with adequate and comprehensive information about its archeological activities thereon, and asks the Israeli authorities to cease such excavations and works in conformity with the UNESCO Conventions for the protection of cultural heritage;
11. Asks in this regard, that the World Heritage Centre states in its relevant reports on the obstacles related to the provision of such information by the Israeli authorities and also requests the World Heritage Centre to play a proactive role;
12. Further requests the World Heritage Centre to apply the Reinforced monitoring mechanism to the Old City of Jerusalem and on both sides of its Walls, and also requests that the World Heritage Centre validates in a concrete manner the flow of information provided by the concerned parties on the ongoing activities in and around the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls;
13. Encourages the Director-General of UNESCO 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;
14. Thanks the Director-General of UNESCO and the World Heritage Centre for steps undertaken in the implementation of the Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem and further requests them to report on this matter and on the state of conservation of the property at its 37th session in 2013;
15. Decides to retain the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7A.23.II
1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7A.Add,
2. Recalling previous UNESCO decisions, including 176 EX/Special Plenary Meeting/Decision, Decision 34 COM 7A.20 of the World Heritage Committee adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010), and 187 EX/Decision 5 relating to the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem,
3. Also recalling the relevant provisions on the protection of cultural heritage, including in the four Geneva Conventions (1949), the relevant provisions of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954, the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972, the inscription of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls at the request of Jordan on the World Heritage List (1981) and on the List of World Heritage in Danger (1982), and recommendations, resolutions and decisions of UNESCO,
4. Reaffirming the purpose and spirit of the professional encounter at the technical level on 13 January 2008, as well as the follow-up meeting on 24 February 2008,
5. Noting the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth and its Addendum, Tenth and Eleventh Reinforced Monitoring Reports prepared by the World Heritage Centre,
6. Recognizes the concerns raised in this regard about the decision by the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Commission on the town planning scheme for the Mughrabi Ascent, and the subsequent decision by Israel’s National Council for Planning and Construction to adopt “an alternative plan for the Mughrabi Ascent”, approved on 31 October 2010 by the above-mentioned Commission;
7. Requests that, despite the decisions mentioned in paragraph 6, the process for the design of the Mughrabi Ascent be inclusive of all parties concerned, in accordance with obligations and duties of such parties as stipulated in the content of previous World Heritage Committee decisions;
8. Reaffirms in this regard, that no measures, unilateral or otherwise, should be taken which will affect the authenticity and integrity of the site, in accordance with the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972 and the relevant provisions on the protection of cultural heritage of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954;
9. Notes the request made by the World Heritage Committee in previous decisions, and requests, in this regard, the Israeli authorities to continuecooperation with all concerned parties, in particular with Jordanian and Waqf experts;
10. Acknowledges receipt of the Jordanian design for the restoration and preservation of the Mughrabi Ascent, submitted to the World Heritage Centre on 27 May 2011, and thanks Jordan for its cooperation in accordance with the relevant provisions of UNESCO conventions for the protection of cultural heritage;
11. Affirms in this regard, that the UNESCO-initiated process for follow-up to the design of the Mughrabi Ascent, which aims at proactively facilitating an accepted and monitored solution concerning the Mughrabi Ascent among all parties concerned, be coordinated with all such parties, in accordance with the spirit and content of previous World Heritage Committee decisions;
12. Acknowledges in this regard, the concerns raised regarding Israel’s submission and content of its plan for the Mughrabi Ascent, referred to in paragraph 6, and requests the World Heritage Centre to be proactive and follow closely, in the context of the Reinforced monitoring mechanism, the developments associated with this process;
13. Notes with satisfaction the access provided by Israel to the Mughrabi Ascent for Jordanian and Waqf experts on 23 May, 8 August and 28 November 2010, and reiterates its request that Israel continues cooperation commenced with all parties concerned, in particular with Jordanian and Waqf experts to enable agreement on, and implementation of, a final design for the restoration and preservation of the Mughrabi Ascent among all parties concerned;
14. Also notes in this regard, reports of preliminary discussions between Jordan and Israel concerning the Mughrabi Ascent, which stipulate, inter alia, that no measures, unilateral or otherwise, shall be taken on the site in accordance with paragraph 8 above, and the necessity of an accepted design and implementation thereof among all parties concerned;and reiterates in this regard, the need for the parties concerned to coordinate and cooperate on all related aspects of this issue;
15. Encourages the Director-General to facilitate coordinated action and professional exchanges between all the parties concerned;
16. Decides to continue applying the Reinforced monitoring mechanism for the state of conservation of the Mughrabi Ascent, and also requests a report from the World Heritage Centre every four months, until the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2013.
Decision Adopted: 36 COM 8C.2
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-12/36.COM/7A and WHC-12/36.COM/7A.Add),
2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: