UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC
 AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION

CONVENTION CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF
 THE WORLD CULTURAL AND NATURAL HERITAGE

WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE

Thirty-ninth session

Bonn, Germany
 28 June – 8 July 2015

Item 7A of the Provisional Agenda:  State of conservation of the properties
 inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

 

SUMMARY

In accordance with Section IV B, paragraphs 190-191 of the Operational Guidelines, the Committee shall review annually the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. This review shall include such monitoring procedures and expert missions as might be determined necessary by the Committee.

This document contains information on the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The World Heritage Committee is requested to review the report on the state of conservation of the property contained in this document. The full reports of Reactive Monitoring missions requested by the World Heritage Committee are available at the following Web address in their original language:

All state of conservation reports are also available through the World Heritage State of conservation Information System at the following Web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc

 

Decision required: The Committee is requested to review the state of conservation report. The Committee may wish to adopt the draft Decision which will be presented during the session.

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CULTURAL PROPERTIES

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ARAB STATES

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27. Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (C 148 rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1981

Criteria (ii)(iii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger 1982-present

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. […]"

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

Not yet drafted

Corrective measures identified

Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet established

Previous Committee Decisions 

International Assistance

Requests Approved: 1 (1982)

Total Amount Approved: 100,000USD

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

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

Previous monitoring missions

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.

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

Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/148/ 

Current conservation issues

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 http://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

Al-Aqsa Mosque

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:

1. "Chapter 1 : Al-Aqsa Mosque and its environs
2. Chapter 2 : Israeli Occupation Authorities's Agressions and Violations against the Historic Character of the Old City of Jerusalem and Its walls
3. Chapter 3 : Recommendations " The content of each chapter is summarized below :

c) Al-Aqsa Mosque and its environs

The report first presentsthe activities carried out at the Al Aqsa Mosque/AI Haram Al-Sharif, with a definition of the Al Aqsa Mosque/AI 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 tunneling undertaken in and around the Old City1, 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.

e) Recommendations

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-Haram 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.

Draft Decision: 39 COM 7A.27

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

28. Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) (C 1433)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2012

Criteria (iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger 2012

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

• Degradation of the architectural complex of the Church of the Nativity;

• Development pressure;

• Tourism pressure.

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

Drafted; proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

Corrective measures identified

Drafted; proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Drafted; proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

Previous Committee Decisions see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0

Total amount approved: USD 0

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 723,000 from Italy (Emergency Action Plan 1997-1998; Conservation and Management Plan 2006-2010).

Previous monitoring mission

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

• Degradation of the architectural complex of the Church of the Nativity

• Development pressure

• Tourism pressure

Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/ 

Current conservation issues

On 25 February 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report; which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/documents The State Party also submitted in November 2014 progress reports on the restoration of the Church of the Nativity.

• The first phase of the restoration of the Church of the Nativity started in September 2013. As additional funds were acquired, further phases of work on the Narthex and its Eastern Wooden Door, and on murals, plasterwork and external facades were added. The whole project is now due for completion in December 2016. Repairs to the roof trusses and cover boards have been completed and the roof lead replaced. "Ancient" wooden timbers from Italy were used to replace defective roof structures. Details are provided on investigative surveys that have been undertaken including dendrochronology and radio-carbon dating of the roof timbers.

• A Conservation Plan was included as an Annex. This includes a list of relevant charters, general conservation principles, and preliminary steps, such as characterisation, structural analysis, and documents to be produced. This is a generic conservation approach rather than a Conservation Plan that is specific to the Church of the Nativity.

• A Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in danger (DSOCR) and corrective measures are submitted, in agreement with the State Party, for approval by the World Heritage Committee.

• Guidelines for a Management Plan have been agreed. A Management Unit was put in place in December 2014; its first task is to complete the Management Plan.

• In order to control development within the buffer zone, Regulatory Bylaws for the Historic Centre in Bethlehem and for Traditional Buildings were adopted in September 2014. A Manual for the Rehabilitation of the Historic Town is also under preparation. Further Regulatory Bylaws will be produced on a 70-metre belt beyond the buffer zone to ensure visual corridors in the wider setting of the property.

• A Marketing Management Plan is being planned for the Pilgrimage Route. Work is also underway to prevent traffic along the pilgrimage route and to restore its façades and paving.

• A tunnel under Manger Square is being considered in order to provide an alternative route for vehicles that cross the square. Once conceptual designs have been drawn up, these and impact assessments will be submitted for review. Currently there is no funding for this project.

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

Considerable progress has been made with the roof restoration and this is now substantially complete.

Although a Conservation Plan document has been submitted, this is more of a generic conservation approach rather than a document that justifies specific interventions within the restoration work of the Church of the Nativity. It is now too late for such a document to be produced, as the main decisions on the restoration have been made and the work undertaken. It remains unclear how the very detailed surveys and analysis that were undertaken were used as a basis for deciding on specific interventions. Although extensive surveys of the roof timbers have produced evidence for structures dating back to the 14th century, it is not clear from the documents provided which of these have been retained or repaired, nor where "ancient" timbers imported from Italy were inserted. Given the extreme significance of the Church of the Nativity, and the particular importance of its roof, a more detailed level of specification should have been provided, based on a summary and review of existing knowledge, in order that there was a clear rationale and documentation for how each of the trusses and purlins were conserved. Such an approach would have provided an understanding of the precise dating of each timber and of the overall authenticity of the roof. It is suggested that a record now needs to be provided retrospectively.

Therefore, it should be noted that, if an extension of the project to encompass further work on murals, facades and the Narthex is envisaged, it should be preceded by the preparation of a comprehensive conservation plan, on the basis of due analysis and studies, which is submitted for review.

A DSOCR and corrective measures have been agreed between the State Party and the Advisory Bodies, and it is suggested that these should be recommended for approval. The danger to the property was not defined in the Committee decision at the time of inscription or in the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) agreed by the Committee in 2012, and thus has to be inferred from the Nomination dossier and the ICOMOS evaluation. It is suggested that the danger should be considered to be the lack of repair and conservation of the roof structure of the Church of the Nativity and the consequent threat to the roof timbers, roof covering, and the interior wall surfaces from water ingress.

The new Regulatory Byelaws for the Historic Centre of Bethlehem and those proposed for the wider setting are to be welcomed, as is the aim to reduce traffic from the Pilgrimage Route. Proposal for a possible tunnel under Manger Square is preoccupying and does need to be submitted for review at the earliest possible conceptual level.

Draft Decision: 39 COM 7A.28

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.5, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),

3. Notes that considerable progress has been made with the conservation of the roof of

the Church of the Nativity;

4. Also notes with concern that no specific conservation strategy was set out to justify

precise intervention on the roof timbers, based on analysis and review of all the evidence gathered from surveys and research, before work was undertaken, as envisaged in the corrective measures;

5. Requests the State Party to prepare, retrospectively, documentation on each of the roof

timbers, that shows the recent interventions in relation to evidence of age and materials, in order to understand the authenticity of what is now in place, and the chronology of the roof elements;

6. Also requests the State Party to provide to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the

Advisory bodies, a comprehensive conservation plan for the murals, the facades and the Narthex should any works be foreseen thereon ;

7. Adopts the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and corrective measures, as follow:

a) Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger:
Completed conservation and repair of the roof structure of the Church of the Holy Nativity
b) Corrective measures:
(i) Complete a full investigative survey of the historic timbers and lead work of the roof, identifying the age and historical significance of the various component parts.
(ii) Develop a Conservation Plan that synthesis the conclusions of the detailed investigative survey into a clear statement of the significances of the various elements of the roof within a comprehensive conservation philosophy for the roof restoration project.
(iii) Prepare a detailed project specification for the roof repairs that allow a full understanding of which elements of the roof will be maintained, which repaired and which replaced.
(iv) Undertake the roof repair project, including stabilising the vaults of the Narthex, and document its interventions.
c) Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures:
[to be submitted]

8. Calls upon the international community to support the State Party in the implementation

in the above-mentioned corrective measures;

9. Urges the State Party to continue pursuing the implementation of the corrective measures and to submit a timetable for their full implementation by 1 February 2016 for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016;

10. Welcomes the introduction of Regulatory Bylaws for the Historic Centre of Bethlehem and their proposed development for the wider setting;

11. Further notes the aim to free the Pilgrimage Route from traffic through diversions, car parks and possibly a tunnel under Manger Square, and also urges the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, concept proposals of the tunnel at the earliest opportunity, and before plans are finalised or approved;

12. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016;

13. Decides to retain the Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

29. 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

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

• Potential construction of a separation fence (wall)

• Abandonment of terraces and afforestation

• Impact of socio-cultural and geo-political transformations

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger Drafted, proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

Corrective measures identified

Drafted, proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures Proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

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

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0

Total amount approved: USD 0

For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1492/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring mission

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous report

• Threats identified at the time of inscription in 2014:

• Potential construction of a separation fence (wall)

• Abandonment of terraces and afforestation

• Impact of socio-cultural and geo-political transformations

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

Current conservation issues

On 25 February 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1492/documents. This responded to the request of the World Heritage Committee at the time of inscription, as follows:

Construction of fence (wall): In January 2015, the Israeli High Court of Justice agreed to freeze the construction of the 'Wall", although the Israeli Government reserved the right to build the Wall in the future. This judgement followed the Israeli Government's decision not to reauthorize the 2006 plan for a three-kilometre stretch of the 'Wall", as the plan was considered "not a high security priority".

Socio-cultural and geo-political changes and abandonment of terraces and afforestation: Geopolitical changes are reported to be accelerating the processes of abandonment of agricultural practices and seriously affecting the socio-cultural structures. Both of these factors are having an increasingly disruptive effect on the integrity of the property. Further "illegal" construction of settlements on surrounding hills are negatively impacting on the setting of the property and also having an adverse impact on ecological systems.

Management and Conservation: The stakeholders are committed to developing a Management and Conservation Plan for the safeguarding and sustainable use of the property. A Master Plan for the village is also being planned. Various projects to restore irrigation channels, springs and stone walls are being undertaken.

• A draft Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) was submitted with the State Party report. A timeframe for its implementation was later agreed with the State Party.

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

The decision by the Israeli High Court not to build the 'Wall" is to be welcomed, as removing a major threat to the property. It is noted that this decision has not necessarily finally closed the issue but any new proposals would need to re-start the processes of consultation and approval within the Israeli administration.

As noted by the State Party, changes that have the potential to undermine the traditional social and cultural processes are accelerating and continuing to impact adversely on the functionality and integrity of the cultural landscape.

The reversal of these negative changes will only be achieved through sustained interventions at a local level, through an active management plan, and with the full engagement of local communities, and local and national authorities. The development of a Management and Conservation Plan and a strong management system is urgently needed as is adequate protection. The Plan needs to set out specific projects to deliver the necessary corrective measures.

It is recommended that the Committee adopt the DSOCR, developed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in agreement with the State Party, as proposed in the draft Decision below.

Draft Decision: 39 COM 7A.29

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 8B.4, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),

3. Welcomes the judgment of the Israeli High Court not to build the "Wall", and notes that any new proposals for a wall or fence would need to re-start the processes of consultation and approval within the Israeli administration;

4. Notes with concern that the decline in traditional social and cultural processes is accelerating, bringing further negative impacts on the functionality and integrity of the landscape;

5. Takes note of the commitment to develop a Management Conservation Plan and urges the State Party to progress this as soon as possible;

6. Adopts the following Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR):

 Dismissal of plans to build a "Wall" along the property, or within its setting,
 Adequate conservation in place of the agricultural terraces and their associated components, including watchtowers and thystone walls throughout the property,
 Adequate restoration in place of the irrigation system and the development of an adequate sewage system to protect water quality in the property,
 Protection in place for the property and its buffer zone,
 Management plan and monitoring systems adopted and sustainable management system in place;

7. Also adopts the following corrective measures and timeframe for their implementation by the State Party:

a) Corrective measures:
(i) Agreement to dismiss plans to build a "Wall" along the property, or within its setting,
(ii) Implementation of projects to retrieve an appropriate state of conservation of the agricultural terraces and their components, including the watchtowers and thystone walls throughout the property,
(iii) Implementation of a project to restore traditional irrigation systems,
(iv) Implementation of a project to put in place adequate sewage system to protect water quality in the property,
(v) Preparation, approval and implementation of a Conservation, and a Management Plan for the property,
(vi) Development and implementation of an active system of management that involves local communities and stakeholders,
(vii) Preparation of a set of indicators for monitoring the property and implementation of a monitoring system,
(viii) Development of protection for the property and its buffer zone,
b) Timeframe for implementation of the corrective measures:
[to be submitted]

8. Also urges the State Party to implement the corrective measures and to submit a timetable for their full implementation to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016;

9. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016;

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.

Endnotes

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.

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