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Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls

Jerusalem (Site proposed by Jordan)
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • 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; Urban environment and visual integrity; Impact of archaeological excavations

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • High impact research / monitoring activities
  • Housing
  • Natural risk factors
  • Management systems/management plan; 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; effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure
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 2021

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

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 1 (from 1982-1982)
Total amount approved : 100,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

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 not carried out

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 19 February 2020, a joint report was provided to the World Heritage Centre by the States Parties of Jordan and Palestine, which is available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/148/documents/. The report covers the period from 2017 to 15 April 2019, while providing earlier information as well. It can be summarized as follows:

  • Concerning Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif and its surroundings, a number of concerns were outlined in the report, including increased intrusions between 2017 and 2018, lack of coordination with the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf, access restrictions, prevention of conservation and renovation works carried out by the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf, the closure of buildings, and damage to the structure and furniture of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif;
  • The report provides an update on excavations, and tunnelling around Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, mainly focusing on underground works in the area between Silwan and the Western Wall. According to the report, excavations have also impacted the Umayyad palaces south of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, the area of Bab Al-Amoud/Damascus Gate inside the property, as well as the area of the Qishla building and Bab Al-Khalil/Jaffa Gate;
  • The report also provides examples of violations against Christian churches and holy sites since 1967, with a focus on incidents in the past years. It also presents information on transformations and changes in relation to streets, sites and buildings, and on touristic projects that are planned or underway, including the cable car project, demolitions, and construction projects, particularly at Al-Buraq Plaza;
  • Between 2016 and 2019, several projects and activities were accomplished by the Jerusalem Jordanian Awqaf and the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa. These include conservation, restoration and renovation work at several features and elements of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, particularly at the Dome of the Rock, Qibli Mosque, Marwani mosque, Sabil Qaitbai, Sabil Qasem Basha, Bab Al-Silsileh Mutawada’ and the exterior ladder of the Dome of the Rock;
  • In accordance with the agreement signed between UNESCO and the Norwegian Government in December 2011 on the project, entitled “Ensuring the Sustainability of the Centre for Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts of the Haram al Sharif in Jerusalem”, UNESCO has deployed its assistance to build the Centre’s staff capacities in the preservation of Islamic manuscripts. Since the outset of the project in 2011: 14 learning modules were implemented, with over 1,538 hours of training on conservation and restoration techniques, in addition to study tours to restoration centres in Amman, Paris and Florence carried out in 2013. Ten staff of the Centre have been granted permanent positions by Jordan. The Centre currently enjoys a restoration and conservation laboratory with essential equipment, facilities and materials, that were provided under the project. Moreover, UNESCO conducted seven monitoring and consultation missions during the project implementation period, between 2011 and 2015, contributing thus to its effective and efficient execution. Committed to building the long-term sustainability of the Centre and to consolidating the acquired skills, the Government of Norway renewed its support to UNESCO in 2020 for a new phase of the project aiming at making the Centre fully operational and autonomous through the restoration of the premises and the elaboration of a long-term conservation and management strategy. Its implementation modalities are being finalized.
  • The report also provides recommendations, including the establishment of a monitoring mechanism that documents and raises awareness regarding threats to the World Heritage property.

Since the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee, the Secretariat received several letters from the Permanent Delegations of Jordan and Palestine to UNESCO (2 July 2019), from ICOMOS Palestine (3 July 2019), from the Arab Group at UNESCO (5 July 2019), from the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) (9 July 2019), and from the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) (9 July 2019), regarding excavations and tunneling projects that could have an impact on the integrity of the World Heritage property of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls. The Secretariat invited the State Party of Israel to provide information, and stating that should this development be verified, it would be of utmost importance to analyze their potential impacts on and consequences on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), integrity and authenticity of the World Heritage site.

The Permanent Delegations of Jordan and Palestine to UNESCO expressed concerns in letters regarding developments related to the building of a cable car (18 December 2019), the installation of scaffolds and ongoing excavations at the property (22 January 2020), plans for the construction of an elevator and a tunnel leading to Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif (10 July 2020), and the reported destruction of the historic stairway and the walls of the Al-Yousifieh Islamic Cemetery, which is located next to the property (9 February 2021). In addition, the Permanent Delegation of Palestine to UNESCO expressed concerns regarding plans for the installation of a Ferris wheel overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (21 July 2020). The Secretariat followed up with the State Party of Israel, requesting the relevant information.

Following subsequent reports regarding the approval and commencement of experimental drilling connected to the construction of a train route and underground station next to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, the Secretariat addressed two letters to the State Party of Israel on 10 March and 22 May 2020, mentioning both the train and cable car projects. Through the letters, it was underlined that, should these developments be verified, it would be of utmost importance to analyze their potential consequences and effects on the OUV, integrity and authenticity of the property, and urged the State Party of Israel, in the meantime, to refrain from any actions that may have an impact on the property’s OUV. On 17 June 2020, Israel provided a reply, informing that, in order to safeguard the World Heritage property, tentative plans for a project to access the Old City of Jerusalem by railway were suspended. Regarding the project to build a cable car over the Old City of Jerusalem, it was reported that an order nisi was issued by the High Court of Justice of Israel on 23 February 2021 compelling the State to provide explanations on a series of issues related to it. 

A letter was received on 18 March 2021 from Israel regarding the World Heritage Site “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls”, in response to the Secretariat’s inquiry about reported excavations undertaken by the Israeli authorities at Al-Buraq Plaza and near the Mughrabi Gate of the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif. Israel informed the Secretariat that according to its Antiquities Authority, no excavations had been carried out near the Mughrabi Gate and that, therefore, the foundations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque were safe and intact.

Furthermore, in May 2021, letters were received from the Chairperson of the Arab Group to UNESCO (11 May and 31 May 2021) and the Permanent Delegation of Palestine to UNESCO (11 and 17 May 2021), addressing the situation of East Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif. The Secretariat followed up with the State Party of Israel, requesting the relevant information. In response to the Secretariat’s enquiry, a letter was received from Israel on 11 July 2021 addressing the situation of East Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7A.10
Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (C 148 rev)
Decision: 44 COM 7A.10

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having considered document WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2 and the Annex attached to this decision,
  2. Recalling its previous decisions concerning the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls,
  3. Decides that the status of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls relating to the World Heritage List remains unchanged as reflected in Decisions 43 COM 7A.22 and 43 COM 8C.2 of its last session.

ANNEX

 

The World Heritage Committee

44th session of the Committee (44 COM)

 

Item 10:     Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2,
  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 New 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 20 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/Decision 19.1, 200 EX/Decision 25, 201 EX/PX 30.1, 202 EX/Decision 38, 204 EX/Decision 25, 205 EX/Decision 28, 206 EX/Decision 32, 207 EX/Decision 38, 209 EX/Decision 24, 210 EX/Decision 36, and 211 EX/Decision 33, and the 10 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, 41 COM 7A.36, 42 COM 7A.21 and 43 COM 7A.22,
  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.
44 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/21/44.COM/7A, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2.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 44 COM 7A.28)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 44 COM 7A.29)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 44 COM 7A.32)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 44 COM 7A.35)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.39)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.40)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.41)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.42)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.43)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.45)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 44 COM 7A.5)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.55)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 44 COM 7A.52)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 44 COM 7A.6)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 44 COM 7A.7)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 44 COM 7A.8)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 44 COM 7A.10)
  • Kenya, Lake Turkana National Parks (Decision 44 COM 7A.47)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 44 COM 7A.11)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 44 COM 7A.12)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 44 COM 7A.13)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 44 COM 7A.14)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 44 COM 7A.15)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 44 COM 7A.48)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 44 COM 7A.1)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 44 COM 7A.2)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 44 COM 7A.3)
  • Mexico, Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Decision 44 COM 7B.56)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 44 COM 7A.30)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 44 COM 7A.49)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 44 COM 7A.17)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 44 COM 7A.16)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 44 COM 7A.36)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 44 COM 7A.37)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.50)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 44 COM 7A.33)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 44 COM 7A.53)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 44 COM 7A.18)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 44 COM 7A.19)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 44 COM 7A.20)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 44 COM 7A.21)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 44 COM 7A.22)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 44 COM 7A.23)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 44 COM 7A.4)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.51)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.54)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 44 COM 7A.31)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 44 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 44 COM 7A.25)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 44 COM 7A.26)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 44 COM 7A.27).
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7A.10

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having considered document WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2 and the Annex attached to this decision,
  2. Recalling its previous decisions concerning the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls,
  3. Decides that the status of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls relating to the World Heritage List remains unchanged as reflected in Decisions 43 COM 7A.22 and 43 COM 8C.2 of its last session.

 

 

--

 

ANNEX

 

The World Heritage Committee

44th session of the Committee (44 COM)

 

Item 10:     Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2,
  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 New 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 20 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/Decision 19.1, 200 EX/Decision 25, 201 EX/PX 30.1, 202 EX/Decision 38, 204 EX/Decision 25, 205 EX/Decision 28, 206 EX/Decision 32, 207 EX/Decision 38, 209 EX/Decision 24, 210 EX/Decision 36, and 211 EX/Decision 33, and the 10 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, 41 COM 7A.36, 42 COM 7A.21 and 43 COM 7A.22,
  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.
Report year: 2021
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
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2020) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
Exports

* : 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.


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