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Source: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
15 April 1985

United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization
Executive Board

Hundred-and-twenty-first Session

Item 5.4.1 of the provisional agenda

121 EX/11
PARIS, 15 April 1985
Original: French/English




1. At the 120th session of the Executive Board, the Director-General informed the Board of the action taken to give effect to 22 C/Resolution 11.8 of the General Conference and also of the communications which he had received on the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Jerusalem (document 120 EX/14).

2. After examining this document, the Executive Board adopted 120 EX/Decision 5.3.1, the text of which is annexed hereto and includes the following three paragraphs:


3. The Permanent Delegate of Israel sent the Director-General a letter dated 22 February 1985, which is reproduced below:
'Paris, 22 February 1985


May I refer to my letter dated 2 May 1984 concerning an attempt to invade the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Two of the defendants are hospitalized for medical care and against the third an action is brought in a court of law.

Thus the matter is still 'subjudice' until the court's verdict is pronounced.

Accept Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Minister plenipotentiary
Permanent Delegate of Israel'

4. The Permanent Delegate of Israel's communication of 2 May 1984, referred to in the above, was brought to the notice of the Executive Board at its 120th session (cf. document 120 EX/14, paragraph 6).


5. In pursuance of 22 C/Resolution 11.8 of the General Conference and 120 EX/Decision 5.3.1 of the Executive Board, the Director- General instructed his personal representative, Mr. Raymond Lemaire, Professor at the University of Louvain, to visit Jerusalem from 5 to 9 March 1985. Following his mission, which was carried out after consultation with the Government of Israel, Professor Lemaire delivered to the Director-General his report, which is reproduced in full below:

1. Date of the mission - 5 to 9 March 1985.

2. Purpose - to examine the cultural heritage of Jerusalem, particularly in connection with the problems mentioned in my general report submitted to the 120th session of the Executive Board or raised during the discussion of item 5.3.1 of its agenda.

3. Persons met:

3.1 Israeli:

3.2 Arab:
Mr. A. Husseini were absent from Jerusalem at the time of my visit.

4. The excavations

To my knowledge and on the basis of a detailed inspection of the city, no new site for excavation has been opened since my visit in July 1984. Furthermore, none of the sites previously excavated shows any signs of recent activity. It therefore appears that all excavations have been halted in Jerusalem at present. Moreover, during my conversations with officials of the Department of Antiquities, no mention was made of any new project of this sort.

It should be noted:

(1) That a project is currently being prepared by the architect, Nachum Melzer, for the permanent consolidation and presentation to good effect of the remains of the wall on the east slope of the Ophel hill (City of David). The project covers the remains unearthed during work carried out on the site over almost a century, particularly by Kathleen Kennyon (1967-1968) and Y. Shilo (1978-1983). The walls and pitching built over the last few years to consolidate the side of the hill will be planted over in the course of the works. According to the archaeologists in charge, the project marks the end of all archaeological activities on this site.

(2) The work at the Damascus Gate to uncover Roman remains has been completed. There are no excavations in progress. The remains of the Roman Gate have been con-solidated. A site museum of great importance for the town of Aelia Capitolina, which was rebuilt by the Emperor Hadrian after the destruction of the City of Herod in the year 70, has been established in the basement of the structure and under the public square within the walls immediately behind the Gate.

(3) The part of the site opened by Professor Mazar in his day to the south and west of the Haram al-Sharif and located inside the wall is at present suffering from an obvious lack of maintenance. The uncovered remains, which date from the earliest period of the city's history down to the Umayyad period, are certainly not endangered, but the site is definitely in need of cleaning and maintenance. On the other hand, the part of the same site located outside of the wall, which includes mainly Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad remains, is well maintained and can be visited. There is no need to discuss here the unfortunate hypothetical reconstruction work carried out on the site three years ago, which is highly debatable in aesthetic terms. It has been dealt with at length in previous reports.

The attention of the responsible authorities has been drawn to the possible consequences of the present situation. It is their intention to take prompt corrective action. It has been confirmed that no new excavations are planned in this sector, nor any extension to other sites adjoining the Haram al-Sharif.

5. The tunnel

The tunnel which has been dug under the buildings of the Arab quarter along the Western wall of the Haram al-Sharif has not been carried any further; its length is the same as it was in July 1984. As is known, the tunnelling was halted in April 1984 by a decision of the Prime Minister of Israel, mainly as a result of serious problems of stability at al-Madrasa al-Manjakiyya, the Headquarters of the city's Islamic Council (cf. my reports of 6 May 1983, 19 October 1983, and 4 August 1984).

The consolidation of the tunnel has been completed, with the exception of two small sections which will be completed shortly. Major consolidation work using reinforced concrete has been carried out under al-Madrasa al-Manjaklyya, where large ancient cisterns are located.

This work ought to ensure the overall stability of the buildings standing over this part of the tunnel, but as the excavations have disturbed the rubble on which these buildings rest, they could undergo smaller movements in the future. An expert on stablility acceptable to the two parties has not yet been appointed in accordance with the wish expressed by the Executive Board in October 1984 in decision 5.3.1 (l20 EX/14). I have drawn the attention of the Israeli authorities to this fact and suggested the names of some experts of international reputation.

Furthermore, the Waqf architects have not yet received the plans and cross--sections of the tunnel; nor have they been invited to visit it. This has been pro-posed on several occasions, and the idea was accepted by Mr Burg, the Minister of Religious Affairs, in April 1983 but as yet no action has been taken. Efforts have been made to relaunch the proposal.

I was not able to meet the architect responsible for Waqf properties, Mr A. Husseini. According to Mr Awad and Mr Natshe, who belong to the same adminis-tration and regularly visit the Islamic Council building, there has been no major new damage since my last visit in October 1984.

6. The work on providing amenities and public areas

6.1 The renovation of sewers and paving has continued, mainly in the Christian quarter and in the northeastern sector of the Arab quarter. However, as in every other part of the city, the streets have been paved with local natural stone. I was not informed of any problems of stability or other recent damage resulting from this work. Moreover, according to Mr Yaacovy, Chairman of East Jerusalem Develop-ment Ltd., the damage caused by previous work has been repaired and buildings of uncertain stability have been reinforced, generally by means of flying buttresses built over the street in accordance with the normal practice in Jerusalem. In this connection, perhaps it is worth noting that the proliferation of such buttresses might alter inordinately the appearance of certain picturesque streets in the city and thus impair their traditional image and balance.

6.2 According to a recent report prepared by East Jerusalem Development Ltd., the following work has been carried out to date in connection with the renovation of infrastructures, paving, and amenities within the wall of Suleyman the Magnificent:

      renovation of infrastructure
      renovation of paving
      renovation of sewers
      new water-supply conduits
      buried telephone cable
      buried television distribution cable
      buried street lighting cable
      street lighting installations
      electricity transformer stations
      reinforced buildings
      buildings demolished because of inadequate stability
7,750 m
33,400 m2
5,853 m
10,416 m
12,100 m
30,825 m
20,585 m
12,365 m
The map appended to the report prepared by East Jerusalem Development Ltd., indicates that this work covers practically all of the Armenian, Jewish and Christian quarters and also a large part of the Arab quarter, with the exception of the sector of the city situated to the northeast and bounded by the wall, the former Decumanus East (el Wad Street) and the Via Dolorosa. In this sector, only Bab Hutta Street and a few adjoining alleyways have been included. The removal of television aerials does not affect the Arab quarter.

The renovation of amenities in this quarter is planned to take place at a later stage. According to Mr Kollek, the city's Mayor, the resources available for the provision of amenities and development of public areas have not been appreciably curtailed, in spite of the substantial budgetary restrictions imposed on the munici-pality of Jerusalem because of the general economic situation of the country.

7. The landscaping around the wall built in the sixteenth century by Sultan Shleyman has been completed. The same applies to the walk along the parapet of the wall.

Since October 1984, work has been carried out on the Dung Gate in the southern side of the wall, which was originally a very narrow gate and was widened during the Jordanian period between 1947 and 1967. The widening of the gate has been maintained, as this is one of the main access routes to the Wailing Wall and the lower part of the city. However, the concrete girder has been replaced by a flattened arch, above which the remains of the original gate have been preserved and restored.

The road which enters through this gate is being improved and vehicles and pedestrians separated because of the volume of traffic.

8. Birkat Israel. According to the Mayor of Jerusalem, the talks between the municipality and the Waqf authorities on the clean-up and development of this site have resulted in a solution satisfactory to both parties which will shortly be implemented.

9. Al-Madrasaal-Jawhariyya remains in the same state as in October 1984. The Israeli authorities, who were responsible for the damage and who financed the temporary strengthening work, are still willing to carry out or to bear the costs of restoration, but constructive contacts have not yet been established with regard to this matter between the parties involved. Amongst other questions, there is doubt as to who will be in charge of the work. Should the party responsible for the damage carry out the work with the full consent of the owner, or should the latter take the initiative with the payer's agreement? There is a will to resolve the problem on both sides, and thus it is probable that an agreement will be reached shortly and that constructive contacts will be arranged between the parties concerned.

10. The Waqf services, and the Department of Islamic Archaeology in particular, have undertaken the restoration of al-Madrasa al-Kilaniyya. The work, which concerns the facade for the most part, is being carried out with great care and after detailed archaeological study. However, as the occupants are to remain in their homes during the work and the practical and utilitarian improvements which they have made are to be preserved, there is no possibility of achieving either a real clean-up or the reinforcement and restoration that would ensure at once the survival of the building, the effective enhancement of its architectural qualities, and its use as decent and satisfactory accommodation. Certainly the order and dignity of the facade will be restored, but it will not be possible for the interiors of the buildings to be adequately refurbished or upgraded to the health standards required for minimal acceptability as living quarters. It should not be forgotten that most of the old buildings, mainly in the lower part of the city, are very damp, and that some of them - generally speaking, the most interesting ones in architectural terms, in particular the madrasas and mausoleums were not intended and are not suitable for the dense family accommodation which they provide at present. They lack the lighting, ventilation and facilities necessary for decent accommodation. Where facilities, in particular sanitary facilities, have been added, this has been done at the expense of essential architectural features, which have suffered extensive damage. In addition to these drawbacks, the premises are extremely damp and rubble and debris have piled up in unoccupied premises and courtyards. The conclusion of this analysis, which is applicable to a very large number of extremely important Islamic monuments in Jerusalem, is that mere superficial restoration work, such as work on façades alone, is entirely inadequate to save this heritage and to provide improved or merely viable accommodation in such parts of these buildings which are suitable for use as dwellings without permanent damage to the buildings in Question.

The state of preservation of al-Madrasa al-Muzhariyya (built in 1480-1481), one of the pearls of Mameluke architecture in the city whose restoration is currently under study, fully confirms this diagnosis. Only major action scientifically planned in every respect with a view to seeking to rehabilitate the building before cleaning up its exterior, can guarantee the future of this remarkable work of Islamic architecture. The same observation unfortunately applies to most similar monuments in Jerusalem. Indeed, it should be realized that most buildings have deteriorated to such a point that solutions which involve only the restoration of their façades with-out regard for the rehabilitation of their internal structures may prove to be short-lived, as the causes of deterioration will not have been removed; furthermore, such solutions will not help to improve living conditions in the Arab quarter which, particularly in buildings classed as monuments, barely meet or fall short of the minimum requirements for health and habitability.

11. The restoration of the al-Aqsa Mosque is continuing normally. Measures will be adopted with a view to the renovation in the near future, of the covering of the cupola, which at present consists of silver-coloured aluminium. It will be restored to its original form and covered as before by lead sheeting.

12. I visited the archive depository of the Higher Islamic Council and Waqf Administration of Jerusalem, located in one of the buildings on the northern side of the Haram al-Sharif. The person in charge of this depository is Dr Ahmad Abdallah Yusef. The archives, part of which will soon be moved to a new depository possessing reading rooms equipped with microfilm readers and a library, are in general in an average state of conservation. However, many items, including a collection of manu-scripts, require urgent attention involving the same type of equipment as in the case of the manuscripts in the al-Aqsa Library and in the Museum.

Many archives, mostly of recent date and of undetermined interest, are stored in alarming conditions in a small octagonal structure on the Haram al-Sharif. These archives should be removed at once to a more appropriate storage area and treated without delay in order to prevent their rapid destruction.

l3. The reorganization of the al-Aqsa Museum has almost been completed. An extremely varied array of precious objects (manuscripts, archives, pottery, stone and wood sculpture, costumes, ironwork, etc.,) of great interest are presented with restraint and taste. A number of objects on display have been restored very care-fully so that a clear distinction can be made between original parts and parts which have been reconstructed in order to complete the essential lines of the works of art concerned, in accordance with current practice in this field.

R.M. Lemaire
19 March 1985

6. In this document, the Director-General conveys to the Executive Board all the information in his possession at 29 March 1985. The Director-General is deeply conscious of the importance of the cultural heritage of Jerusalem and will continue to do everything within his power to ensure that the resolutions of the General Conference and the decisions of the Executive Board are put into effect, sparing no effort with a view to the preservation of the city of Jerusalem, which belongs to the heritage of all mankind.



5.3 Culture

5.3.1 Jerusalem and the implementation of 22 C/Resolution 11.8
(120 EX/14 and 120 EX/37)

The Executive Board,


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