1.         Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Palestine) (C 1492)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2014

Criteria  (iv)(v)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2014-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted; see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6245 

Corrective measures identified

Adopted; see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6245

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted; see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6989

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1492/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2016-2016)
Total amount approved: USD 30,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1492/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1492/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 28 January 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report and an updated version was submitted on 29 January 2021. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1492/documents and present progress in a number of conservation issues previously addressed by the Committee, as follows:

-         Dismissal of plans to build a “Wall” along the property, or within its setting: Plans to build a “wall” throughout the property remain suspended. The definitive dismissal of these plans is essentially beyond the State Party’s control,

-         Adequate conservation of the agricultural terraces and their associated components, including watchtowers and drystone walls throughout the property: Implementation of projects to preserve biodiversity, rehabilitate agricultural lands, traditional and hiking paths and dry-stone walls has continued. A training workshop was conducted on rehabilitation of dry-stone walls rehabilitation,

-         Adequate restoration in place of the irrigation system and the development of an adequate sewage system to protect water quality in the property: Projects have been prepared for the rehabilitation of the traditional irrigation system. Water quality inspections and maintenance are carried out regularly. Efforts have been deployed to improve the sewage system, but the necessary funds (USD 25 million) have not yet been secured. The responsible authorities have adopted temporary measures, such as banning the construction of new houses without sealed septic tanks and providing inhabitants with low-cost tanks that need to be discharged periodically at sewage stations,

-         The project to improve the water supply network in Battir (USD 200,000) has been undertaken, while the execution of a wastewater treatment plant project awaits funding and the implementation of a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre,

-         Protection in place for the property and its buffer zone, and, Management plan and a monitoring system adopted and sustainable management system in place: A monitoring system has been developed within the MCP and will be implemented once the management system is effective;

Further, the State Party reports on several threats with a negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including:

The State Party wishes to retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

Throughout 2019 and 2020, the State Party demonstrated progress in implementing the necessary measures to achieve the DSOCR and to respond to the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee. The 2021 report confirms the State Party’s commitment, while admitting that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down processes and activities.

The MCP has been finalised but the envisioned management system, which is crucial for effective management, is not operational yet. In particular, it is urgent to establish the Steering Committee and an implementation working group, involving decision–makers from the local authorities and, in the working group, technical staff from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MOTA), the municipalities and any other relevant institution. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to allocate the necessary resources for a site manager and, in the meantime, implement alternatives, such as creating a joint office with MOTA and staff from the municipalities and other relevant ministries, in order to ensure the coordinated and synergic operationalisation of the MCP. This system can build upon the recently-achieved endorsement of the MCP by all stakeholders and upon the management/coordination meetings that have been held with the municipalities and should continue on a regular basis in the future.

Maintenance and rehabilitation projects for attributes of the agricultural landscape, awareness-raising initiatives and local product promotion have been or are being implemented despite limitations and unfavourable conditions. Temporary alternatives and measures have been enacted to counter the lack of funds to improve the sewage system; however, the solution adopted – low-cost tanks – requires close monitoring of the modalities and regularity of the periodic discharge of these tanks at sewage stations and should be considered a short-term solution. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to continue seeking funds for the improvement of the sewage system as a priority.

The envisaged elaboration of a land-use plan and related bylaws is crucial to avoid uncontrolled urban expansion: the plan should be prepared with the full involvement of the municipalities and the local communities to ensure that its goal and provisions are appropriate.

UNESCO received a letter from the Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (on 5 September 2019) and two letters from the Permanent Delegation of Palestine to UNESCO (on 10 October 2019 and 18 June 2021) regarding violations and illegal constructions undertaken in and near the property. The Secretariat followed up with the State Party of Israel, requesting the relevant information.

The return to agriculture is a positive sign and is to be supported so as to ensure that farming continues after the pandemic emergency.

It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre of any proposed plans for major restoration or new construction projects that may affect the OUV of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse.

In order to monitor progress with the implementation of the corrective measures in relation to the actual state of conservation of the property, it is crucial that this progress is measured against the inventories carried out during the preparation of the MCP that show the current assessed situation on the ground.

It is recommended that the property be retained on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7A.17

Decision: 44 COM 7A.17

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.30 adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Commends the State Party for its efforts to improve the state of conservation of the property and to implement the corrective measures to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), and in particular concerning the restoration of the irrigation system;
  4. Requests the State Party to allocate the necessary resources to ensure the operationalisation of the management system and the implementation of the Management Conservation Plan (MCP), and urges the State Party to adopt in the meantime alternatives to ensure that the Steering Committee and a working group are established and given a mandate for decision-making and for implementing the MCP;
  5. Also urges the State Party to continue seeking the required funds to undertake the development of a sufficient sewage system as a priority;
  6. Encourages the State Party to develop a land-use plan and related bylaws to avoid uncontrolled urban growth within the property and its buffer zone, with the full involvement of the municipalities and local communities;
  7. Takes note with concern of the reports about ongoing illegal constructions and other developments and transformations within the property and its buffer zone;
  8. Also requests the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre of any proposed plans for major restoration or new construction projects that may affect the OUV of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2022;
  10. Decides to retain Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Palestine) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 8C.2

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: