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Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls

Jerusalem (Site proposed by Jordan)
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure
  • Governance
  • High impact research / monitoring activities
  • Housing
  • 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
Not yet established
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2017

Total amount granted: approximately USD 5,000,000 (since 1988)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 1 (from 1982-1982)
Total amount approved : 100,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

February-March 2004: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM mission; from September 2005 to May 2008: 6 experts missions within the framework of the elaboration of the Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem; February-March 2007: special World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM mission sent by the Director-General of UNESCO for the issue of the Mughrabi ascent; August 2007, January and February 2008: missions for the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism; March and December 2009: World Heritage Centre missions; December 2013, October 2014, February 2015 and June 2015: project missions

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Site proposed by Jordan) was inscribed, as a holy city for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, on the World Heritage List in 1981. It has been further inscribed since 1982 on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

A report was provided to the World Heritage Centre by the Israeli Permanent Delegation to UNESCO on 6 February 2017. A joint report was provided to UNESCO by the Jordanian and Palestinian Permanent Delegations on 16 May 2017. These reports are available at 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 6 February 2017 underlines that it refers only to new actions taken or ongoing processes in the areas inside the Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem – intra muros sites. The report presents a wide range of activities. Most of them are similar to those mentioned in the 2016 report and the previously reported activities are therefore not included in the present document. Updates are summarized hereunder:

a) Overall plans and development

Regarding town planning, the report informs about detailed plans in the Old City and notably about a local plan for the construction of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation administrative building which received validation in 2016.

Regarding physical infrastructure, design and execution, the report provides a list of upgrading of infrastructures. It informs notably that two of the wider public projects, Public Infrastructures renewal and streetscape improvement along Hagai (El Wad) Street as well as Installation of Interpretation and Orientation Signage through the Old City, were concluded in 2016. The report also indicates that next comprehensive public space improvement projects are to implemented in 2017 in the Christian and Armenian quarters. It furthermore underlines that management and maintenance activities in the Old City as well as accessibility improvement works have expanded. 

b) Archaeology and conservation activities

The report mentions that ongoing conservation and repair works are conducted by the Islamic Waqf and supervised by Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). In this regard, The report indicates that preservation and conservation works on the Dome of the Rock were conducted in 2016 and informs of ongoing conservation works at Solomon's Stables.

Conservation activities are also reported at the Western Wall compound.

It also provides information on conservation works and activities in the Old City and along its Walls, which includes renovation works and graffiti cleaning; rescue excavations and renovation as well as preservation works in the Jewish Quarter as well as at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The report also provides a list of other conservation works in the Old City, including renovations activities carried out as an initiative of the Islamic Waqf.

Further to the 2016 report, which described “excavation along the foundations of the Western Wall (…) which will help understand the building procedure of the Temple Mount”, the 2017 report provides a list of several reported archaeological and rescue excavations in the Old City and along the Walls, notably in the Muslim and Armenian Quarters. Some of the excavations included in the report are referred to as “salvage excavations“ notably in the Jewish Quarter and Christian quarters.

Finally, the report provides a list of tourism and cultural events that were organized. 

 II.  Report by the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities

The report submitted on 16 May 2017 provides information based on the observations and reports of the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf and the Jordanian National Committee for World Heritage. It presents conservation activities by the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf and by the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif as well as information on measures undertaken in the Old City, reiterating the concern of the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities on these matters.

The content of report is summarized below:

a) Renovation and Conservation activities

The report refers to reported prevention of the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf, from performing renovation works, emergency restorations and stabilization measures to historical structures and to the Mughrabi Gate Pathway.

Furthermore, the report presents a detailed list of activities and projects implemented by the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the Hashemite Restoration Committee notably on the Dome of the Rock, the Al-Jame’ Al-Aqsa / The Qibli Mosque as well as in the Marwani Mosque.

The report also includes a list of conservation and renovation activities undertaken in the Old City, and reported some of them as “stopped” or “banned”. Specific reported damages, notably to several buildings and structures such as the Mamluk wooden gates of Al-Jame’ Al-Aqsa / The Qibli Mosque as well as the Dome of Ascension, are also registered in the report.

b) Archaeology and construction

The report provides an update on constructions, excavations and reported intrusive tunneling actions in and around the Old City[1], in particular in the areas of the Western Wall and in Silwan. Of particular concern to the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities are demolitions, intrusive constructions, tunneling and extensive underground excavations.

In addition, the report provides several examples of construction projects in the Old City of Jerusalem, in a manner that negatively affects the function, visual view and skyline of the Old City, notably for what concerns the tramway adjacent to the Northern Wall and the reported plans to construct a cable car system at the southern walls. Furthermore, the report expresses concern related to reported aggressions against religious sites and prayer places.

The report also refers to the Resolutions and Decisions taken in this regard, notably by the United Nations.

c) Recommendations

The report adresses several recommendations notably with a view to ensuring the implementation of Resolutions and Decisions taken by UNESCO. 

 III.   The Mughrabi Ascent

a) Expert meeting

Since its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), the World Heritage Committee has repeatedly asked “the World Heritage Centre to facilitate the professional encounter at the technical level between Israeli, Jordanian and Waqf experts to discuss the detailed proposals for the proposed final design of the Mughrabi ascent, prior to any final decision.” (Decision 31 COM 7A.18). Two such meetings took place in Jerusalem on 13 January and 24 February 2008.

UNESCO convened a technical meeting at its Headquarters in 2012, however neither examination nor discussion to reach a consensus on the design of the Mughrabi Ascent could take place on this occasion.

Another meeting was foreseen to take place at the World Heritage Centre in May 2013. However not all the parties concerned were in a position to attend. Since then, the World Heritage Committee has deplored the fact that the meeting of experts on the Mughrabi Ascent had not taken place.

Should such a meeting take place, the Secretariat will report on it such a meeting to the World Heritage Committee accordingly, either through an Addendum or orally.

b) Conservation

The information provided in the report by the Jordanian and Palestinian authorities indicates reported “Systematic Demolition of the Magharbeh Gate Pathway (MGP) 2004-2016”. It refers notably to reported extensive “aggression against the MGP” by many constructions, excavations, demolitions, expansions of prayer areas as well as underground tunneling beneath the MGP.

 IV. UNESCO operational projects

The Norwegian Government and UNESCO signed in December 2011 an agreement for the project “Ensuring the sustainability of the Centre for the Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts of the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem” to build capacities of the staff of the Centre in the preservation of Islamic manuscripts. The stakeholders are currently discussing a possible new phase of the project to be implemented from 2017 onwards.

The project “Safeguarding, Refurbishment and Revitalization of the Islamic Museum of the Haram al-Sharif and its Collection” started in 2008 with funding from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The project is currently on hold as it requires additional funding to complete the proposed museographical and scenographical planning, which was approved in March 2015 by the Awqaf authorities. A follow-up mission took place in June 2015. The re-opening of the Museum depends on the availability of funds, and is foreseen beyond 2017.

 V. Reactive Monitoring mission

The World Heritage Committee requested at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011), 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012) sessions respectively, “a joint World Heritage Centre/ICCROM/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property as referred to in the Operational Guidelines to assess and advise on progress made in the implementation of the Action Plan and, in cooperation and consultation with the concerned parties, to identify appropriate operational and financial mechanisms and modalities to strengthen technical cooperation with all concerned parties in the framework of the Action Plan”. However, no agreement could be reached between the concerned parties on the Terms of Reference of the mission which was planned to take place in May 2013.

Since then, the World Heritage Committee has reiterated the request of the dispatch of the mission. In case it would take place, the Secretariat will be reporting on such a mission to the World Heritage Committee accordingly, either through an Addendum or orally.

 VI. Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism

The “Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism”, requested by the UNESCO Executive Board at its 176th session and by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), has been applied to the Mughrabi Ascent since then. Consequently, nine reports were prepared by the World Heritage Centre and forwarded to the concerned parties and the members of the World Heritage Committee. At its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011), the World Heritage Committee decided to expand the mechanism to the entire Old City of Jerusalem and, thus, 7 reports were prepared respectively in December 2011, March 2012, February 2013, March 2014, April 2015, April 2016 as well as in May 2017 and transmitted to the members of the World Heritage Committee and the concerned parties.

[1] The issue of the archaeological excavations carried out since 1967 in the Old City of Jerusalem is also the subject of consideration by the Governing Bodies of UNESCO. These archaeological campaigns are in contradiction with article VI. 32 of the 1956 New Delhi Recommendation on International Principles Applicable to Archaeological Excavations, related to excavations in an occupied territory.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7A.36
Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (C 148 rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-17/41.COM/7A.ADD2,
  2. 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 (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 (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,
  3. 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, including United Nations Security Council resolution 2334 (2016),
  4. Also reaffirming the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions,
  5. Reminding that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the "basic law" on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith,
  6. Further recalling the 12 decisions of the Executive Board: 185 EX/Decision 14, 187 EX/Decision 11, 189 EX/Decision 8, 190 EX/Decision 13, 192 EX/Decision 11, 194 EX/Decision 5.D, 195 EX/Decision 9, 196 EX/Decision 26, 197 EX/Decision 32, 199 EX/Dec.19.1, 200 EX/Decision 25, 201 EX/PX 30.1 and the seven World Heritage Committee decisions: 34 COM/7A.20, 35 COM/7A.22, 36 COM/7A.23, 37 COM/7A.26, 38 COM/7A.4, 39 COM/7A.27, 40 COM/7A.13,
  7. Regrets the failure of the Israeli occupying authorities to cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works, projects and other illegal practices in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law and reiterates its request to Israel, the occupying Power, to prohibit all violations which are not in conformity with the provisions of the relevant UNESCO conventions, resolutions and decisions;
  8. Also regrets the Israeli refusal to implement the UNESCO request to the Director-General to appoint a permanent representative to be stationed in East Jerusalem to report on a regular basis about all aspects covering the fields of competence of UNESCO in East Jerusalem, and reiterates its request to the Director-General to appoint, as soon as possible, the above-mentioned representative;
  9. Stresses again the urgent need to implement the UNESCO reactive monitoring mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, and invites the Director-General and the World Heritage Centre, to exert all possible efforts, in line with their mandates and in conformity with the provisions of the relevant UNESCO conventions, decisions and resolutions, to ensure the prompt implementation of the mission and, in case of non-implementation, to propose possible effective measures to ensure its implementation;
  10. Decides to retain the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
41 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2),
  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 41 COM 7A.54)
    • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 41 COM 7A.55)
    • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 41 COM 7A.2)
    • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 41 COM 7A.23)
    • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.4)
    • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 41 COM 7A.24)
    • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.6)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.7)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.8)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.9)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.10)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.11)
    • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 41 COM 7A.32)
    • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.3)
    • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.18)
    • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 41 COM 7A.33)
    • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.34)
    • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 41 COM 7A.35)
    • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 41 COM 7A.36)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 41 COM 7A.37)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 41 COM 7A.38)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 41 COM 7A.39)
    • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 41 COM 7A.40)
    • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 41 COM 7A.41)
    • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 41 COM 7A.14)
    • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 41 COM 7A.28)
    • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 41 COM 7A.29)
    • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 41 COM 7A.30)
    • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 41 COM 7A.56)
    • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 41 COM 7A.15)
    • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 41 COM 7A.42)
    • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 41 COM 7A.43)
    • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 41 COM 7A.25)
    • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 41 COM 7A.26)
    • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.16)
    • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 41 COM 7A.21)
    • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 41 COM 7A.19)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 41 COM 7A.44)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 41 COM 7A.45)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 41 COM 7A.46)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 41 COM 7A.47)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 41 COM 7A.48)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 41 COM 7A.49)
    • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 41 COM 7A.31)
    • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 41 COM 7A.22)
    • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.17)
    • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.1)
    • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 41 COM 7A.57)
    • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 41 COM 7A.27)
    • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 41 COM 7A.51)
    • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 41 COM 7A.52)
    • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 41 COM 7A.53)
      Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.36

      The Draft Decision will be presented to the World Heritage Committee during the session.

      Report year: 2017
      Jerusalem (Site proposed by Jordan)
      Date of Inscription: 1981
      Category: Cultural
      Criteria: (ii)(iii)(vi)
      Danger List (dates): 1982-present
      Documents examined by the Committee
      arrow_circle_right 41COM (2017)

      * : 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”).

      ** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.