Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
- 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 2016
Total amount granted: approximately USD 5,000,000 (since 1988)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Total amount approved : 100,000 USD
|1982||32-month expert services to undertake an architectural ... (Approved)||100,000 USD|
Missions to the property until 2016**
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 2016
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 1 February 2016. A joint report was provided to UNESCO by the Jordanian and Palestinian Permanent Delegations on 6 April 2016. 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 has been de facto administered by the Israeli authorities. The report submitted on 1 February 2016 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 2015 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 ongoing processes regarding the comprehensive local plan for the Jewish Quarter in the Old City which intends to set guidelines for the preservation and development of the quarter, as well as enhancing the value of its cultural, historical and archaeological assets. The report further informs that, in March 2015, the plan cleared compliance with threshold requirements of the Regional Planning committee.
Concerning residential block plans, “a professional summary of the research done so far, and which can serve as planning guidelines, has been published and will be submitted as well. All documents have been translated into Arabic to enhance the process of public participation.”
The report furthermore provides a list of detailed schemes for the Old City, including notably the Tifferet Israel as well as the Liba (core) House.
Regarding physical infrastructure and design and execution, the report provides a list of upgrading of infrastructures.
The report also informs about implementation of the Old City Lighting masterplan around the Dormition Abbey on Mt. Zion as well as about Interpretation and Orientation Signage being added along main routes.
Furthermore, the report underlines that the four-year contract for Maintenance and Site Management in the Old City was renewed.
b) Archaeology and conservation activities
The report indicates that ongoing conservation works on the Dome of the Rock include preservation of dome mosaics and marble tiles and that ongoing conservation was also conducted in Solomon's Stables. Conservation works were completed on the Eastern Wall.
The report also states that conservation activities included structural works in Ohel Yitzhak Synagogue, Western Wall tunnels conservation and cleaning works as well as cleaning and excavation of the large Mameluke pool.
Furthermore, the report indicates that various works of construction, restoration and maintenance were carried out at the St. Abraham convent.
It also provides information on conservation works and activities in the Old City and along its Walls, which includes development works at the promenade and garden, at the south of the Walls, graffiti cleaning, preliminary conservation actions in the Jewish Quarter as well as others maintenance and restoration works and mentions “excavation along the foundations of the Western Wall (…) which will help understand the building procedure of the Temple Mount”.
The report informs about archaeological research excavations in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park at the Western Wall foundations and at the Western Wall Tunnels.
The report also provides a list of several reported excavations referred to as “salvage excavations“ at the Strauss building; in the Jewish Quarter; in the Moslem Quarter; in the Christian Quarter; in the Armenian Quarter, as well as at the Herodian Hall.
Finally, the report provides a list of tourism and cultural events that were organized.
II. Report by the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities
The report was submitted on 6 April 2016. 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 content of report is summarized below:
a) Renovation and Conservation activities
The report refers to alleged prevention of the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf, from performing 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 undertaken by the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Hashemite Restoration Committee notably on the Dome of the Rock, the dome and columns of the Al-Jame’ Al-Aqsa (the Qibli Mosque) as well as in the Marwani Mosque.
The report also indicates that “renovating part of the Eastern Wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque / Al-Haram Al-Sharif has been stopped although it is one of the urgent projects needed to conserve the historic wall, which is also the eastern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem”. The report also indicates alleged new damages on two Mamluk wooden gates of Al-Jame’ Al-Aqsa / the Qibli Mosque that were restored recently.
This chapter of the report includes several sections which describe 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 intrusive constructions, tunneling and underground excavations. 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.
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. The report expresses concern related to alleged aggressions against religious sites and prayer places.
The report also refers to the Resolutions and Decisions taken in this regard by the United Nations notably.c) Recommendations
Finally the report adresses several recommendations notably with a view to ensure the implementation of Resolutions and Decisions taken by UNESCO.
III. The Mughrabi Ascenta) 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 deplored the fact that the meeting of experts on the Mughrabi Ascent had not taken place.
In case it would take place, the Secretariat will be reporting on such a meeting to the World Heritage Committee accordingly, either through an Addendum or orally.b) Conservation
The information provided in the report by the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities underlines reported “continued concrete constructions and irreversible demolition of major parts of the Mughrabi Gate Pathway (MGP)” in 2014-2015. It refers notably to reported extensive underground tunneling beneath the MGP remains, removal of Historic remains, as well as expansion of new prayer areas. It further indicates that many new constructions and excavations have been continuing through 2015.
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 the possible new phase of the project to be implemented beyond 2016.
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 2016.
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, six reports were prepared respectively in December 2011, March 2012, February 2013, March 2014, April 2015 as well as in April 2016 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.
Summary of the interventions
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7A.13
Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (C 148 rev)
The World Heritage Committee,
Having examined Document WHC-16/40.COM/7A.Add2,
- 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 Israeli illegal archeological excavations and works conducted by the Israeli occupation authorities and 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 activities, 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;
- Calls on Israel to stop the closure of Al-Rahmah Gate building, one of Al-Aqsa Mosque / Al-Haram Al-Sharif gates, and to allow all necessary renovation works thereof, in order to fix damage caused by the weather conditions;
- Also calls on Israel to facilitate the immediate execution of all 19 Hashemite restoration projects in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al-Sharif;
- 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 affect the visual integrity and the authentic character of the site and requests Israel to restore the original character of the site in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of related UNESCO Conventions and recommendations;
- Also deplores the Israeli plan to build a two-line cable car system in East Jerusalem, the construction 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 Western Wall elevator, the digging of a Mamluk structure beneath the Western Wall, the excavations and construction of new levels underneath the Western Wall, and urges Israel to renounce to the above mentioned projects in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of related UNESCO Conventions and recommendations as well as UNESCO Decisions particularly the World Heritage Committee decision 37 COM 7A.26, 38 COM 7A.4 and 39 COM 7A.27 and to provide the World Heritage Centre with all related documentation in particular the documentation concerning the historic remains found at the above mentioned projects;
- Expresses its deep concern regarding the initially approved plan for the so called “Kedem Center” a visitors centre near the southern wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which severally affects the visual integrity and the authentic character of the site and requests Israel to return the remains and to provide the relevant documentation thereof as well as to restore the original character of the site;
- Requests the Israeli authorities to allow unrestricted access of 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 Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif over the past seven months, and encourages Israel to continue to implement and further expand measures to prevent provocative incidents, such as Israeli extremist groups’ storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque / Al Haram Al Sharif, that violate the sanctity and integrity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif that may inflame tension on the ground;
- Further regrets the damage by Israel, 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 as well as the damage of Umayyad, Ottoman and Mamluk remains of the site of Mughrabi Gate Pathway 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;
- 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;
- Also 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 41st session of the World Heritage Committee in 2017;
- 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,
- Taking note of the Reinforced Monitoring Reports and their addenda prepared by the World Heritage Centre as well as the State of Conservation reports submitted to the World Heritage Centre by Jordan and Palestine and by Israel, the de facto administrating authority,
- Expresses its growing concern regarding the continuous, intrusive archeological demolitions and excavations in and around the Mughrabi Gate Ascent, and the latest excavation works conducted at the beginning of May 2015 at the Western Wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and calls on Israel to stop such intrusive archeological demolitions and excavations, respect the Status Quo, and enable the Jordanian Waqf experts as a part of the competent authorities to maintain and safeguard the site in accordance with the relevant provisions of the UNESCO Conventions and Recommendations;
- 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 provisions of the relevant UNESCO Conventions for the Protection of Cultural Heritage;
- Urges Israel, in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of the UNESCO related Conventions, to cooperate with Jordanian Waqf Department and experts to facilitate the restoration of the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate;
- Thanks the Director-General for her attention to the sensitive situation of the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate as an integral part of Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al-Haram Al-Sharif and calls upon her to consult with all concerned parties in order to enable the restoration works 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;
- Stresses the need of the urgent implementation of the above mentioned UNESCO Mission;
- Urges Israel, to accept and facilitate the implementation of that technical expert Mission;
- 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 41st World Heritage Committee session;
- Decides to retain the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
40 COM 8C.2
Update of the list of World Heritage in Danger (retained sites)
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/16/40.COM/7A, WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add and WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add.2),
- Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
- Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 40 COM 7A.26)
- Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 40 COM 7A.27)
- Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 40 COM 7A.32)
- Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 40 COM 7A.1)
- Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.34)
- Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 40 COM 7A.2)
- Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.35)
- Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.36)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.37)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.38)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.39)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.40)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.41)
- Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 40 COM 7A.9)
- Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.43)
- Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 40 COM 7A.28)
- Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.33)
- Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 40 COM 7A.48)
- Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 40 COM 7A.10)
- Iraq, Hatra (Decision 40 COM 7A.11)
- Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 40 COM 7A.12)
- Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 40 COM 7A.13)
- Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 40 COM 7A.44)
- Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 40 COM 7A.6)
- Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 40 COM 7A.7)
- Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 40 COM 7A.45)
- Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 40 COM 7A.14)
- Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 40 COM 7A.15)
- Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 40 COM 7A.3)
- Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 40 COM 7A.4)
- Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.46)
- Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 40 COM 7A. 30)
- Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 40 COM 7A.49)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 40 COM 7A.16)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 40 COM 7A.17)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 40 COM 7A.18)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 40 COM 7A.19)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 40 COM 7A.20)
- Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 40 COM 7A.21)
- Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 40 COM 7A.8)
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 40 COM 7A.31)
- United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.47)
- United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.50)
- Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 40 COM 7A.5)
- Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 40 COM 7A.23)
- Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 40 COM 7A.24)
- Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 40 COM 7A.25).
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7A.13
The Draft Decision will be presented to the World Heritage Committee during the session.
Documents examined by the Committee40COM (2016)
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”).