Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
- 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)
“[…] 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 for the property
Not yet identified
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2015
Total amount granted: approximately USD 5,000,000 (since 1988)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2015
Total amount approved : 100,000 USD
|1982||32-month expert services to undertake an architectural ... (Approved)||100,000 USD|
Missions to the property until 2015**
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: project missions.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015
A report was provided to the World Heritage Centre by the Israeli Permanent Delegation to UNESCO on 2 February 2015. A joint report was provided by the Jordanian and Palestinian Permanent Delegations to UNESCO on 16 March 2015. These reports are available at https://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 “is de facto administered by” the Israeli authorities. The report submitted on 2 February 2015 underlined 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 2014 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 indicates that the Local Plan for the Old City, “a derivative of the strategic plan and previous planning initiatives, was set out to determine the methods and terms of preservation and restoration of the Old City monuments and of the public realm. The plan was designed as an interim plan in preparation of more detailed plans to follow. In 2014 the plan was presented to the local planning committee. Due to the parallel advancement of more detailed Residential Block Plans, its discussion is currently being suspended.”
Concerning residential block plans, the report indicates that “local plan AM/9 for the Old City of Jerusalem adopted in 1976 is still valid for most parts of the Old City. The Residential Block Plans provide tools of management, conservation and development of the urban fabric and allow the issuance of building permits for local residents”. The report also indicates that, “out of some sixty blocks defined (and 26 intended for improvement), six were selected for the first phase of planning. The plans implement policies and guidelines for the safeguarding the cultural heritage of the Old City, the conservation and rehabilitation of historic assets, and facilitate the issuance of building permits in these blocks”. Furthermore, the report states that two residential local plans have been completed being the result of close cooperation between the various professional planning departments at the Municipality and the Regional Planning Committee. They are now being examined for compliance with threshold requirements for discussion before the Regional Committee. Furthermore, work is already progressing on the next four blocks. The report mentions that a new Comprehensive Local Plan for the Jewish Quarter in the Old City is being developed and intended to set guidelines for the preservation and development of the Jewish Quarter. The main goal of the plan is to enhance the value of its cultural, historical and archaeological assets and turn it to a distinctive and attractive urban environment for both residents and tourists. The plan will update land use allocations and accommodate future infrastructure needs. Other than regulate future changes to the public realm, it will concentrate on three compounds: the Jewish Quarter designated parking lot; the Cardo; and the Hurva Synagogue piazza. The plan has been submitted to the Regional Planning Committee, now being examined for compliance with threshold requirements for discussion before the Regional Committee.
The report also provides a list of detailed schemes for the Old City, including notably: the Tifferet Israel - for which a petition has been filed regarding the entrance to the building- the approval of a rehabilitation plan for an Armenian Church in the Christian quarter; the Liba (core) House for which the plan was to return it to the planners for further details to the suggested alternative. The report mentions that a plan for additional spaces to the Western Wall elevator has been approved and that the plan for an addition to an existing residential building has been objected by the Local Planning Committee and passed on to the Regional Committee with recommendations. Furthermore the report indicates that plans for the expansion of an existing housing unit, for approving a building deviation in an existing housing unit, as well as for the enlargement of an existing residential unit have been submitted
The report indicates also that the first phase of the Bab Huta neighborhood was completed, including the replacement of underground infrastructure; street lighting and furniture, pavement and provision of accessibility. The work along Hagai (El Wad) Street has progressed, including the completion of the accessibility of the street along its complete length, as well as the approaches to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Western Wall and the Haram al-Sharif. A streetscape improvement plan for the Christian Quarter including the Muristan plaza and the routes to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is in the final stages of design. Streetscape improvement plans have been designed for the area within the New Gate and within and outside of Damascus Gate, including regulation of traffic, improved accessibility, and the upgrading of storefronts. A new plan for the complex of Galicia roofs, serving as an important open space in this dense area as well as providing access for inhabitants, is designed to provide a safe access to the complex as a whole. The report further underlines that a new plan for the Armenian Patriarch street (Armenian Quarter) is devised for the overall improvement of the street’s infrastructure as well as the regulation of traffic and facilitating handicapped access. Works conducted in the inner piazza of the Dung Gate include improvement of accessibility and shading. A manual for the upgrading of storefronts, ‘Storefront Upgrading’, has been prepared and published in 2014 in both Hebrew and Arabic. Implementation of the Old City Lighting Master-Plan is continually conducted. The report mentions that, in 2015, completion is planned for the Mount of Olives and the Hurva Synagogue. The pilot for Interpretation and Orientation Signage has been completed and the project has been extended to the other areas of the Old City. The process of street numbering of over 4000 shops and residential homes throughout the Old City has been completed.
Furthermore, the report states that the four-year contract for the enhanced cleaning and maintenance services in the Old City has been renewed recently, that a special project is being carried out for deploying central garbage collection spots and that, in 2014, engineers identified and declared seven buildings as dangerous and as a potential risk to public safety. The report informs of the daily operation, since 2014, of a new public minibus service including a shuttle circulating the Old City. Accessibility for the disable improvement works and installation of directional signage for accessible routes have continued through 2014. Finally, the report indicated that more emphasis was put on compounds rather than streets, where accessibility improvements were integrated within the infrastructure improvement schemes in the Latin Quarter (around the New Gate), Lions’ Gate (both in and outside) and Damascus Gate and that the signage system was also enhanced.
b) Archaeology and conservation
The report indicates that ongoing conservation works on Dome of the Rock includes preservation of dome mosaics and marble tiles cladding in the inner walls. Ongoing conservation is taking place in the Solomon's Stables. Conservation works were completed on the Eastern Wall. A stone fence surrounding an electric generator complex was completed. Four of the wooden doors of the al-Aqsa Mosque were replaced by the Waqf.
Western Wall Compound
The report states that an archeological site beneath the Ohel Yitzhak Synagogue demanded a unique, complex and expensive conservation project, and that solutions were designed by a group of Israeli and non-Israeli engineers. Salvage excavations continued at the Strauss building and along the Herodian Wall. Limited conservational work took place at the Little Western Wall.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
The report indicated that various works of construction, restoration and maintenance were carried out at the St. Abraham convent. The front of the Chapel of the Franks underwent cleaning.
The Old City Walls
The report mentions that graffiti cleaning and maintenance of the Bet Shalom Promenade (on the southern wall) were undertaken. Works in the Muslem Quarter include conservation at the Haldiah-el Kirmi dangerous structure; the Mamluk burial site Turbat Seadia; the Mahkamah building and Sabil Hamam el Ain as part of the Hagai (el Wad) street infrastructure upgrading project. The report underlines that salvage excavations were also carried out along Kirmi road; and at the Catholic Armenian Church on Via Dolorosa. In the Jewish Quarter, salvage excavations and conservation were carried out in Birkat Torah Yeshiva, the Tifferet Israel Synagogue site as well as along Ararat and Chabad roads. The report also indicates that salvage excavations were carried out at the Church of the Redeemer, in the Christian quarter.
Finally, the report provides a list of tourism and cultural events that were organized.
II. Report by the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities
The report has been submitted on 16 March 2015. It provides information based on the observations and reports of the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf and the Jordanian National Committee for World Heritage. It presents activities undertaken by the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf and information on measures undertaken in the Old City, reiterating the concern of the Jordan and Palestinian authorities on these matters. The report is composed of three chapters entitled as follows:
- “Chapter 1 : Al-Aqsa Mosque and its environs
- Chapter 2 : Israeli Occupation Authorities’s Agressions and Violations against the Historic Character of the Old City of Jerusalem and Its walls
- Chapter 3 : Recommendations “
The content of each chapter is summarized below :
c) Al-Aqsa Mosque and its environs
The report first presents the activities carried out at the Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al-Sharif, with a definition of the Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al-Sharif as well as its historical and religious significance for Muslims.
Furthermore the report contains a section B entitled “Israeli Occupation violations against Al-Aqsa” including information with regard to reported “aggressions against Al-Aqsa Mosque, worshippers and the staff of the Jerusalem Awqaf”, as well as reports on “Obstruction of Al-Aqsa renovations, (…) excavations and digging threats, (…) “cracks in the Dome of the Rock (…), forcing of Jewish names on Arab buildings”.
The report presents activities and projects undertaken by the Jordanian Awqaf for the conservation of Al-Aqsa and the Waqf properties in the Old City of Jerusalem, among them:
Restorations of parts of the eastern wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque,
- Restoration of Two Mamluk wooden gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque,
- Continuing the restoration work of the plastering and mosaic decorations inside the Dome of the Rock,
- Covering the roofs of some buildings of Al-Aqsa Mosque with lead sheets,
- Continuing marble restoration of the interior walls within the Dome of the Rock,
- Re-pointing of the stone courses of the seventh colonnade of al-Marwani Mosque.
The report also mentions the cooperation with UNESCO for the rehabilitation of the Manuscript Conservation Laboratory and for the refurbishment of the Islamic Museum, as well as training of some employees. It also indicates that the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf is finalizing with the help of a UNESCO expert a conceptual design for the Islamic Museum of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
d) Israeli Occupation Authorities’s Agressions and Violations against the Historic Character of the Old City of Jerusalem and Its walls
This chapter presents “A – reminder of the illegality of all Israeli Occupation measures in Occupied Jerusalem, B – some of the continued illegal intrusive tunnelling and underground excavations, C – new projects of Judaization of historic sites in the Old city of Jerusalem and its surroundings, and D – examples of demolition and change of status of historic remains in order to replace them with Jewish prayer places.”
The report also recalls the Resolutions and Decisions taken in this regard by the United Nations notably.
In addition, the report provides several examples of measures to “enforced Judaization construction projects in the Old City of Jerusalem” (section C), in the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque notably, in a manner that negatively affects the function, visual view and skyline of the Old City. Furthermore, the report indicates that the Umayyad Palaces Area had suffered destruction, misrepresentation and disfigurement of relics.
The report expresses concern at demolitions and confiscations designated for establishing new Jewish prayer places. In this regard, the report mentions a new plaza and prayer wall at the southern western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the conversion of the historic site of Ribat al-Kurd / Hosh al-Shihabi, located near Bab Al Hadid (Iron Gate) of Al-Aqsa Mosque into a Jewish prayer place during the period 2006 through 2014 as well as acts of demolition and removal of artefacts at the Nabi Dawoud Mosque, an Islamic Waqf property, located next to the southern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem.
In 2014 and 2015, UNESCO has received reports from an Israeli NGO on recent activities regarding excavation and construction work in and around the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls. The Secretariat requested Israel to provide additional information in particular related to the construction activity for the “Giv’ati Parking Lot”. At the time of the preparation of this report, no answer was received. A large part of the report relates to the extensive archaeological excavation and tunnelling undertaken in and around the Old City, in particular in the areas of the Western Wall and in Silwan, affecting notably the structural integrity of the areas around and under the Al-Haram Al-Sharif. Of particular concern to the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities are the tunnels connecting Al Wad Street with the Western Wall and the Kittan Cave/Suleiman Cave, the excavations and tunnelling at Silwan and Al Buraq Plaza, Beit Strauss as well as with the plans to build the “Kedem Compound” on the site of the Upper Silwan “Givati Parking Lot” at the entrance of Silwan, and only a few meters from the walls of the Old City. The report also mentions the plan to open a parking lot on the site of Nea Maria Church, in the southern part of the Old City of Jerusalem a few meters away from the Nabi Dawoud Gate. The report further informs that Muslim cemeteries, Roman layers, important historic rooms and walls in Silwan are reported to have been removed without documentation.
Finally the report adresses severals recommendations and “calls on Israel, the Occupying Power, to comply with the relevant UNESCO decisions” and to comply with the relevant provisions of major Conventions related to heritage protection, including the 1954 Convention and the 1972 Convention. The report also adresses recommendation to UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies to comply with Decisions and Resolutions adopted by the Executive Board as well as by the World Heritage Committee related to the World Heritage site of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls.
III. The Mughrabi Ascent
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. Jordanian and Waqf experts participated in this meeting, with representatives of the World Heritage Centre, ICCROM and ICOMOS. However, due to the absence of the Israeli experts, neither examination nor discussion of the Israeli proposal took place. Therefore, the situation has remained unchanged as the objective of the meeting was to review both proposals in order for the parties to reach a consensus on the design of the Mughrabi Ascent.
At the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee (Saint Petersburg, 2012), Decision 36 COM 7A.23.II, reiterating the terms of the Executive Board decision, was adopted by consensus among the concerned parties.
A note verbale from the Permanent Delegation of Jordan to UNESCO, dated 9 October 2012, informed UNESCO that “On May 22nd, 2012, the Israeli authorities commenced unilateral actions at the Mughrabi Gate Pathway which are continuing to this date.” thus disregarding previous decisions of the Executive Board and of the World Heritage Committee requesting that “no measures, unilateral or otherwise, shall be taken on the site”. The note verbale highlights the great concern of the Government of Jordan about these actions “which have adversely altered the site’s characteristics, integrity, authenticity and Islamic cultural heritage” and which “hinder the efforts to finally settle the Mughrabi Gate Pathway dispute in a manner consistent with UNESCO’s consensus decisions and acceptable by all relevant parties”. Two additional notes verbales, dated 4 and 14 February 2013 as well as a letter dated 2 April 2013 reiterated this matter.
The Jordanian authorities, in 2013, reiterated the above and the deep concern of the Government of Jordan that such actions would alter the “status quo” and may lay the foundations for erecting a permanent bridge or annexing the levelled areas to the Plaza. Furthermore, Jordan called upon UNESCO to comment on the Jordanian design submitted in May 2011, in order for UNESCO to approve it.
Israel stated in its 2013 report on the State of Conservation of the Old city of Jerusalem that in February 2012, work commenced in order to stabilize the temporary wooden bridge as well as in the area where the new Mughrabi Ascent is to be built, including the removal of unstable walls, filling of underground spaces with dirt, stabilizing ancient walls, removal of layers of dirt, and stabilizing dirt cuts.
During the discussions at the 190th session of the Executive Board, Member States expressed their concern regarding the lack of progress in implementing the decisions of the Board and of the World Heritage Committee. A meeting of the Bureau of the Executive Board was convened by the Chairperson on 7 and 8 March 2013, requesting the Director-General to deploy her efforts to achieve progress on this matter. At the 191st session, a consensus was finally reached among the concerned parties for an experts meeting to take place in May 2013, as acknowledged in Decision 191 EX/5.
The meeting was foreseen to take place at the World Heritage Centre on 27 May 2013, and the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities had designated their experts. However, failing an agreement on the Terms of Reference of the mission (see below, VI), the meeting has not taken place at the time of the drafting of the present document.
At its 37th session, the World Heritage Committee reiterated “the need for the parties concerned to cooperate on all related aspects of this issue [Mughrabi ascent] and regrets Israel’s refusal to fulfil World Heritage Committee Decision 36 COM 7A.23.II, Executive Board 191 EX/Decision 5 (I) and related UNESCO Resolutions and Decisions”.
In response to the request for additional information regarding the constructions work undertaken at the beginning of the ramp leading to the Mughrabi Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, UNESCO was informed, by letter from the Ambassador of Israel to International Organizations dated 31 January 2014 that “all the ongoing construction works are carried out with full cooperation and coordination between the Waqf authorities, the Municipality of Jerusalem and the Israeli Antiquities Authority”.
The information provided in the report by the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities indicates that reported “extensive aggressions” against the Mughrabi Gate Pathway and its surroundings since 1967 continued in 2014-2015. The report mentions that threats to construct a permanent bridge, neglecting the calls of UNESCO and the international community to preserve the site’s heritage, continued in 2014. Furthermore, considerable demolitions of the historic remains, including entire rooms and parts of the Afdaliyya Mosque were conducted in 2013-2014. The report also indicates that the Jewish women’s prayer area has been expanded and that many new constructions and excavations are continuing through 2015, including the erection of a huge wooden platform for Jewish reform and conservative prayer place labeled as a new expansion of the Western Wall constituting an imposed change of Jerusalem status-quo.
Since 2014, the Executive Board deplored the fact that the meeting of experts on the Mughrabi Ascent, had not taken place. By several Decisions, notably 196 EX/Decision 26 (Part I.C) the Executive Board “urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to accept and facilitate the implementation of the (…) Experts meeting in accordance with UNESCO decisions and in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of UNESCO Conventions for the Protection of Cultural Property and Cultural Heritage.” The Executive Board further invited all parties concerned to participate in the expert meeting on the Mughrabi Ascent and requested that the report and recommendations of the mission as well as the report of the meeting on the Mughrabi Ascent, be presented to the parties concerned before the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee (June 2014). It also thanked the Director-General for her continuous efforts to implement the above-mentioned UNESCO joint mission and all related UNESCO Decisions and Resolutions.
It has been brought to the attention of the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee that not all the parties concerned were in a position to attend the expert meeting prior to its opening on 15 June 2014. The same information has been brought to the attention of the 195th and 196th session of the Executive Board (October 2014 and April 2015). Both the World Heritage Committee and the Executive Board reiterated the request to organize the expert meeting.
The Secretariat will be reporting on such a meeting to the World Heritage Committee accordingly, either through an Addendum or orally, in case it would take place.
IV. UNESCO operational projects
In 2008, within the framework of the UNESCO Action plan for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, the A.G. Leventis Foundation decided to contribute to a project for the restoration of the lower part of the Church of St. John the Baptist, also known as St. John Prodromos. The overall state of conservation of the underground part of this Church, which is one of the most ancient in Jerusalem, was considered critical since no serious restoration and maintenance works have been undertaken for decades. The project aimed at solving structural problems and making the lower church accessible to the resident community and visitors. In 2011, after the removal of a modern floor, in-depths archaeological research was completed. In 2012 the overall programme for the structural consolidation and project proposals was prepared. However, the available funds were not sufficient to undertake a full restoration project and therefore the works were limited to key priorities. The World Heritage Centre conducted a mission to Jerusalem in November 2013 for the closure of the operational project on the Church of St. John the Baptist. The project has now been terminated and the remaining funds were returned to the donor in December 2014.
The third phase of the project for the establishment of the Centre for the Restoration of Manuscripts of the Haram al-Sharif, funded by Norway, started in September 2011 and is progressing well. Five additional staff members have been recruited and 10 training sessions on conservation and restoration techniques have been held so far, in addition to the field visits to restoration centres in Paris and Florence in 2013. The project also provided the Centre with conservation equipment and materials. UNESCO conducted two consultation missions in October 2014 and in February 2015 in order to review progress achieved and to plan future activities to be implemented in 2015.
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 premises of the Islamic Museum have been repaired and the necessary equipment has been purchased in order to help with the inventory process and the digitization of the collections. From 2011 to present, nine training sessions were held and permanent staff members have been trained in conservation and museum management, English language and computer programmes. In addition, a storage room was set up and the archives were digitized. The electronic and photographic inventory was completed. The museological phase started in September 2012, with the consultant team selected by UNESCO, and is finalizing the scientific concept and design planning of the museum, in consultation with the authorities. An audience development team produced a report on the expectations of the public. Selected artefacts were cleaned and conserved, in view of the production of a new permanent exhibition of the museum. Progress review as well as planning for future activities during 2015 was undertaken during the UNESCO consultation missions in October 2014 and in February 2015.
V. 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, five reports were prepared respectively in December 2011, March 2012, February 2013, March 2014 as well as in April 2015 and transmitted to the members of the World Heritage Committee and the concerned parties.
VI. 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”. At the 191st session of the Executive Board, a consensus could finally be reached among the parties concerned for the mission to take place in May 2013, as acknowledged in Decision 191 EX/9.
The mission was scheduled to be carried out from 20 to 25 May 2013. However, no agreement could be reached between the concerned parties on the Terms of Reference of the mission.
At its 37th session, the World Heritage Committee deplored “the continued Israeli failure to cooperate and facilitate the implementation of the World Heritage Committee Decision 34 COM 7A.20, which requests a joint World Heritage Centre/ICCROM/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls […] and asks Israel to refrain from any new preconditions in order not to obstruct the implementation of the above mentioned agreement”.
In April 2014, the Executive Board deplored the fact that the reactive monitoring mission to the site of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls had not taken place. The decision 196 EX/ Decision 26 (Part I.C) also “urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to accept and facilitate the implementation of the mentioned Mission (…) in accordance with UNESCO decisions and in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of UNESCO Conventions for the Protection of Cultural Property and Cultural Heritage.”. By 194 EX/Decision 5 (I, D) adopted by vote, the Executive Board also decided to implement paragraph 11 of Decision 34 COM 7A.20 adopted by the World Heritage Committee in Brasilia at its 34th session, amended as follows:
(a) Phase I: the dispatch, on an agreed date prior, at least 10 days, to the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee, of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICCROM/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls to assess, as a first phase, the 18 sites included in the Action Plan as pilot sites;
(b) Phase II: the dispatch, on an agreed date, of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICCROM/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, to assess, as second phase, the major monumental complexes designated in the Action Plan (i.e. al-Ḥaram ash-Sharif, the Citadel, the Western Wall, the Holy Sepulchre and the City Walls).
The Executive Board further requested that the report and recommendations of the mission be presented to the parties concerned before the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee. However, it has been brought to the attention of the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee (June 2014) that the reactive monitoring mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls could not be undertaken before the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee. The same information has been brought to the attention of the 195th and 196th session of the Executive Board (October 2014 and April 2015). Both the World Heritage Committee and the Executive Board reiterated the request of the dispatch of the mission.
The Secretariat will be reporting on such a mission to the World Heritage Committee accordingly, either through an Addendum or orally, in case it would take place.
 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.
Summary of the interventions
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2015
39 COM 7A.27
Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (C 148 rev)
Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add,
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 and its related protocols, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970), the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972, the Delhi UNESCO Recommendation of 1956 concerning excavations undertaken in occupied territories, 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 related recommendations, resolutions and decisions of UNESCO,
Reaffirming that nothing in the present decision, which aims at the safeguarding of the authenticity, integrity and cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem on both sides of 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,
Deeply concerned by the persistence of the Israeli illegal excavations and works conducted by the Israeli Occupation authorities and the extreme settler groups in the Old City of Jerusalem and on both sides of its Walls and the failure of Israel to cease such harmful interventions, requests Israel to timely stop all such violations, in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of related UNESCO Conventions and recommendations,
Regrets the damage caused by the Israeli security forces on 30th October 2014 to the historic Gates and windows of the Qibli Mosque inside Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which is a Muslim holy site of worship and an integral part of a World Heritage Site;
Expresses its deep concern over the Israeli closure and ban of the renovation of Al-Rahma Gate building, one of Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif Gates, and urges Israel to stop obstruction of the necessary restoration works, in order to fix the damage caused by the weather conditions, especially the water leakage into the rooms of the building;
Deplores the damaging effect of the Jerusalem Light rail (tram line) at few meters from the Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem which severely affects the visual integrity and the authentic character of the site and requests Israel, the Occupying Power, to restore the original character of the site in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of related UNESCO Conventions and recommendations;
Calls on Israel, the Occupying Power, to stop the obstruction of the immediate execution of all the 19 Hashemite restoration projects in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif;
Also deplores the Israeli decision to approve: the plan to build a two-line cable car system in East Jerusalem, the plan to construct of the so called “Liba House” project in the Old City of Jerusalem, the demolition and new construction of the so-called Strauss Building, and the project of the elevator in the Buraq Plaza (Western Wall), the digging of a Mamluk structure beneath the Buraq Plaza (Western Wall), the excavations and construction of new levels underneath the Buraq Plaza, and urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to renounce the above mentioned projects in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of related UNESCO Conventions and recommendations particularly the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954 and its related protocols, as well as UNESCO Decisions particularly the World Heritage Committee decisions 26 and 38COM7A.4;
Expresses its deep concern regarding the plan for building of the so called “Kedem Center” a visitors centre near the southern wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which severely affects the visual integrity and the authentic character of the site, in addition, its placement at the northern entrance to Silwan village will cut off the Palestinian residents’ direct connection to Old City and the Palestinian neighbourhoods to the north and east of the village, furthermore, most of the remains resulted from the excavation therein have been completely removed without documentation;
Expresses its concern regarding the restricting obstacles imposed by Israel, the Occupying Power, on the freedom of access that shall be provided to the competent national authorities including the Jordanian Waqf experts to safeguard the Old City of Jerusalem and both sides of its Walls;
Welcomes the relative improvement of Muslim worshippers' access into A.l-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif over the past seven months, regrets the Israeli extremist groups' continuous storming of Al-.Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to take necessary measures to prevent such provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity of the Al Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif and inflame tension on the ground;
Further regrets the damage by Israel, the Occupying Power, of the historic ceramics atop of the main gates of the Dome of the Rock and the damage of the historic gates and windows of the Qibli Mosque inside Al Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif and reaffirms, in this regard, the necessity to respect and safeguard the integrity, authenticity and cultural heritage of Al-Aqsa Mosque /Al-Haram Al-Sharif, as reflected in the Status Quo, as a Muslim Holy Site of worship and as an integral part of a World Cultural Heritage site;
Calls upon Israel to return the remains and to provide the World Heritage Centre with the relevant documentation in particular concerning the removed and found historic remains, as well as to restore the original character of the sites of all the above mentioned projects;
Requests the World Heritage Centre to continue applying the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism to the Old City of Jerusalem on both sides of its Walls, and also requests it to report every four months on this matter;
Thanks the Director-General of UNESCO and the World Heritage Centre for their efforts aimed at the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem on both sides of its walls and invites them to report on this matter at the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2016;
Recalling 176 EX/Special Plenary Meeting Decision, and all UNESCO Executive Board Decisions relating to the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem,
Affirms that the Mughrabi Ascent is an integral and inseparable part of Al Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif,
Takes into consideration all the previous Reinforced Monitoring Reports and their addenda prepared by the World Heritage Centre as well as the State of Conservation report submitted to the World Heritage Centre by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Palestine,
Expresses its growing concern regarding the continuous, intrusive demolitions and illegal excavations in and around the Mughrabi Gate Ascent, and the latest excavation works conducted at the beginning of May 2015 at the Buraq Plaza (Western Wall) of Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and calls on Israel, the Occupying Power, to end such violations, respect the Status Quo, and enable the Jordanian Awaqf experts as a part of the competent national authorities to maintain and safeguard the site in accordance with the relevant provisions of the UNESCO Conventions and Recommendations in particular the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954 and its related protocols;
Commends 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 provisions of the relevant UNESCO Conventions for the Protection of Cultural Heritage;
Urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to cooperate with Jordanian Awqaf Department, in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of the UNESCO related Conventions, to facilitate access of Jordanian Awqaf experts with their tools and material to the site in order to enable the execution of the Jordanian design of the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate;
Further expresses its deep concern regarding demolitions of Ummayad, Ottoman and Mamluk remains at the site of the Mughrabi Gate Pathway, and urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to abide by its obligations in this regard;
Thanks the Director-General for her attention to the sensitive situation of the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate and asks her to take the necessary measures in order to enable the execution of the Jordanian design of the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate;
Recalls the Executive Board decisions concerning the reactive monitoring mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls particularly decision 196EX/Decision26.4 as well as the World Heritage Committee decisions particularly decision 34 COM 7A.20;
Deeply regrets the continuous Israeli failure to implement the Reactive Monitoring Mission and urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to accept and facilitate the implementation of that Mission;
Stresses the need of the urgent implementation of the above-mentioned UNESCO mission and, in case of non-implementation according to the above mentioned Executive Board decision 196EX/Decision26.4, decides to consider, in conformity with the provisions of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972, adequate measures to have the concerned party implement it;
Requests that the report and recommendations of the mission be presented to the concerned parties prior to the next 197 EX Board session;
Thanks the Director-General for her continuous efforts to implement the above-mentioned UNESCO mission and all related UNESCO decisions and resolutions, and invites her to report on this matter at the next 40th World Heritage Committee session;
Decides to retain the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
39 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of the World Heritage in Danger
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-15/39.COM/7A and WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add),
- Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
- Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 39 COM 7A.38)
- Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 39 COM 7A.39)
- Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 39 COM 7A.18)
- Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosi (Decision 39 COM 7A.44)
- Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.1)
- Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 39 COM 7A.45)
- Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.2)
- Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.3)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.4)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.5)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.6)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.7)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.8)
- Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 39 COM 7A.24)
- Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.10)
- Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 39 COM 7A.40)
- Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 39 COM 7A.41)
- Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.20)
- Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 39 COM 7A.15)
- Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 39 COM 7A.25)
- Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 39 COM 7A.26)
- Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 39 COM 7A.27)
- Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 39 COM 7A.11)
- Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 39 COM 7A.21)
- Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 39 COM 7A.22)
- Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 39 COM 7A.12)
- Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 39 COM 7A.28)
- Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 39 COM 7A.29)
- Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 39 COM 7A.46)
- Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 39 COM 7A.47)
- Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.13)
- Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 39 COM 7A.42)
- Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 39 COM 7A.16)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 39 COM 7A.30)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 39 COM 7A.31)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 39 COM 7A.32)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 39 COM 7A.33)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 39 COM 7A.34)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 39 COM 7A.35)
- Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 39 COM 7A.23)
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 39 COM 7A.43)
- United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.14)
- United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.17)
- Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 39 COM 7A.48)
- Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 39 COM 7A.37)
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7A.27
The Draft Decision will be presented to the World Heritage Committee during the session.
Documents examined by the Committee39COM (2015)
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”).