The Director-General of UNESCO expressed his satisfaction with the decision by the Mayor of Jerusalem to suspend the construction work on the ramp to the esplanade of the Mosques in the Old City of Jerusalem

On 12 February 2007, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, announced his “satisfaction” concerning the decision of the Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Uri Lupolianski, to suspend the excavation and renovation work on the ramp to the esplanade of the Mosques and Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. “It is a wise decision with regard to respect for everyone’s religious symbols and beliefs,” he declared.

Last 8 February (see Flash Info n°016-2007), Mr. Matsuura had expressed his great concern with regard to the work initiated by the Israeli authorities on the site of the Old City of Jerusalem, which is protected by the Convention concerning the protection of cultural and natural World Heritage (1972) and inscribed on the World Heritage List as well as the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Director-General had shared his concern with the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Ehud Olmert, in a letter indicating that the plans of this work had not been communicated to UNESCO.

Mr. Matsuura was particularly pleased with the terms of the decision taken by the Mayor of the city on Sunday evening, which he defined as being marked by “a democratic spirit of responsibility.” Indeed, this decision foresees that the plans for the construction of a new walkway to the esplanade of the Mosques will be the subject of a broad consultation with all parties involved. The interruption of the works should bring back calm to the Old City of Jerusalem and put an end to the violent confrontations between its various communities. The Director-General hoped that the forthcoming consultation “will be held in a spirit of dialogue, engaging all of the concerned parties and reflecting the commitments made.”

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 023-2007
  • 13-02-2007
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