UNESCO Condemns Israeli Actions in Jerusalem and Disputed Territories
(October 28, 2015)
BY THE EXECUTIVE BOARD AT ITS 197th SESSION
*Including the meetings of the subsidiary bodies before the plenary meetings.
32 Occupied Palestine3 (197 EX/32 and Addenda)
The Executive Board,
1. Having examined document 196 EX/32 and Add. and Add.2,
2. Recalling the provisions of the four Geneva Conventions (1949) and their additional Protocols (1977), the 1907 Hague Regulations on Land Warfare, the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) and its additional Protocols, the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970) and the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), 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 in Danger (1982), and the recommendations, resolutions and decisions of UNESCO on the protection of cultural heritage, as well as resolutions and decisions of UNESCO relating to Jerusalem, also recalling previous UNESCO decisions related to the reconstruction and development of Gaza as well as UNESCO decisions on the two Palestinian sites in Hebron/Al-Khalil and in Bethlehem,
3. Affirming that nothing in the present decision, which aims, inter alia, at the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem, shall in any way affect the relevant Security Council and United Nations resolutions and decisions on the legal status of Palestine and Jerusalem,
4. Deeply regrets the Israeli refusal to implement UNESCO previous Decisions concerning Jerusalem particularly 185 EX/Decision 14 and notes that its request to the Director-General to appoint, as soon as possible, a permanent representative to be stationed in East Jerusalem to report on a regular basis about all the aspects covering the fields of competence of UNESCO in East Jerusalem, has not been fulfilled and reiterates its request to the Director-General to appoint the above mentioned representative;
5. Deeply deplores the recent repression in East Jerusalem, and the failure of Israel, the Occupying Power, to cease the persistent excavations and works in East Jerusalem particularly in and around the Old City, and reiterates its request to Israel, the Occupying Power, to prohibit all such works in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of the relevant UNESCO conventions, resolutions and decisions;
6. Thanks the Director-General for her efforts to implement previous UNESCO decisions on Jerusalem and asks her to maintain and reinvigorate such efforts;
1.B Al-Aqsa Mosque/AI-Hamm Al-Sharif and its surroundings
1.B.1 Al-Aqsa Mosque/AI-Hamm Al-Sharif
8. Strongly condemns the Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the freedom of worship and Muslims' access to their Holy Site Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif, and requests Israel, the Occupying Power, to respect the pre-1967 status quo and to immediately stop these measures s;
9. Firmly deplores the continuous storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif by the Israeli right wing extremists and uniformed forces, and urqes Israel, the Occupying Power, to take necessary measures to prevent provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif;
10. Deeply decries the continuous Israeli targeting of civilians including religious figures, sheikhs, and priests, further decries the large number of arrests and injuries among Muslim worshippers and Jordanian Awqaf guards in Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif by the Israeli forces and also urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to end these aggressions and abuses which enflame the tension on the ground and in between faiths;
11. Disapproves the Israeli restriction of access to Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif during the Eid Al-Adha 2015 and the subsequent violence and calls on Israel, the Occupying Power, to stop all violations against the Waqf properties;
12. Deeply regrets the refusal of Israel to grant visas to UNESCO experts in charge of the UNESCO project at the Centre of Islamic Manuscripts in Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif and requests Israel to deliver visas to UNESCO experts without restrictions;
13. Also regrets the damage caused by Israeli Forces, especially since 23 August 2015, to the historic gates and windows of the Qibli Mosque inside Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and reaffirms, in this regard, the obligation of Israel to respect the integrity, authenticity and cultural heritage of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, as reflected in the pre-1967 status quo, as a Muslim Holy Site of worship and as an integral part of a World Cultural Heritage Site;
14. Expresses its deep concern over the Israeli closure and ban of the renovation of the Al-Rahma Gate building, one of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif gates, and asks Israel to lift the ban on the Gate and on the necessary restoration works, in order to fix the damage caused by the weather conditions, especially the water leakage into the historic rooms of the building and also calls on Israel, the Occupying Power, to stop the obstruction of the immediate execution of all the 19 Hashemite restoration projects in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif;
15. Further deplores the Israeli decision to approve a plan to build a two-line cable car system in East Jerusalem and the so called "Liba House" project in the Old City of Jerusalem as well as the construction of the so called "Kedem Center", a visitor centre near the southern wall of the Mosque, the construction of the Strauss Building and the project of the elevator in the Buraq Plaza and urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to renounce the above mentioned projects and to stop the construction works in conformity with its obligations under the relevant UNESCO conventions, resolutions and decisions;
1.B.2 The Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate in AI-Aqsa Mosque/AI-Harm Al-Sharif
16. Reaffirms that the Mughrabi Ascent is an integral and inseparable part of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif;
17. Takes note of the 14th Reinforced Monitoring Report and all previous reports, together with their addenda prepared by the World Heritage Centre as well as the State of Conservation reports submitted to the World Heritage Centre by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Palestine;
18. Deprecates the persisting Israeli unilateral measures and decisions regarding the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate, including the latest works conducted at the Mughrabi Gate entrance in February 2015, the instalment of an umbrella at that entrance as well as the enforced creation of a new Jewish prayer platform south of the Mughrabi Ascent and the removal of the Islamic remains at the site and reaffirms that no Israeli unilateral measures, shall be taken in conformity with its status and obligations under the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954;
19. Further expresses its deeps concern regarding the illegal demolitions of Ummayad, Ottoman and Mamluk remains as well as other intrusive works and excavations in and around the Mughrabi Gate Pathway, and also requests Israel, the Occupying Power, to halt such demolitions, excavations and works and to abide by its obligations in this regard;
20. Reiterates its thanks to Jordan for its cooperation and further urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to cooperate with Jordanian Awqaf Department, in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954, to facilitate access of Jordanian Awqaf experts with their tools and material to the site in order to enable the execution of the Jordanian design of the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate in accordance with UNESCO and World Heritage Committee decisions particularly 37 COM/7A.26, 38 COM/7A.4 and 39 COM/7A.27;
21. Thanks the Director-General for her attention to the sensitive situation of this matter and asks her to take the necessary measures in order to enable the execution of the Jordanian design of the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate;
I.C The UNESCO Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls
The UNESCO experts meeting on the Mughrabi Ascent
22. Stresses yet again the urgent need of the implementation of the UNESCO Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls;
23. Recalls, in this regard, 196 EX/Decision 24 that requests, in case of non-implementation prior to the current 197th session of the Executive Board, to consider, in conformity with the International Law, other means to ensure its implementation;
24. Notes with deep concern that Israel, the Occupying Power, did not comply with any of the 10* decisions of the Executive Board as well as the 6 resolutions of the World Heritage Committee that request the implementation of the Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls;
25. Regrets the continued Israeli refusal to act in accordance with UNESCO and World Heritage Committee decisions that request a UNESCO experts meeting on the Mughrabi Ascent and the dispatch of a Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls;
26. Invites the Director-General to take necessary measures to implement the above-mentioned Mission in accordance with World Heritage Committee decision 34 COM/7A.20, prior to the next 198th session of the Executive Board, also invites all concerned parties to facilitate the implementation of that mission and experts meeting;
27. Requests that the report and recommendations of the mission as well as the report of the technical meeting on the Mughrabi Ascent, be presented to the concerned parties;
28. Thanks the Director-General for her continuous efforts to implement the above-mentioned UNESCO joint Reactive Monitoring Mission and all related UNESCO decisions and resolutions;
II.A The reconstruction and development of Gaza
29. Deeply decries the continuous negative impact of the Israeli military confrontations in Gaza Strip in all fields of competence of UNESCO;
30. Strongly deplores the continuous Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip which harmfully affects the free and sustained movement of personnel and humanitarian relief items as well as the intolerable number of casualties among Palestinian children, the attacks on schools and other educational and cultural facilities and the denial of access to education and further requests Israel, the Occupying Power, to immediately ease this blockade;
31. Reiterates its request to the Director-General to upgrade, as soon as possible, the UNESCO Antenna in Gaza in order to ensure the prompt reconstruction of schools, universities, cultural heritage sites, cultural institutions, media centres and places of worship that have been destroyed or damaged by the consecutive Israeli wars on Gaza;
32. Thanks the Director-General for the information meeting, that was organized last March, on the current situation in Gaza in the fields of competence of UNESCO and on the outcome of the projects conducted by UNESCO in the Gaza Strip/Palestine and invites her to organize another information meeting on the same matter;
33. Thanks the Director-General for initiatives that have already been implemented in Gaza in the field of education, culture, youth and for the safety of media professionals, and calls upon her to continue her involvement actively in the reconstruction of Gaza's damaged educational and cultural components;
11.B The two Palestinian sites of Al-Harem Al ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in
Al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bildt lbn Raba!) Mosque/Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem
34. Reaffirms that the two concerned sites located in Hebron/Al-Khalil and in Bethlehem are an integral part of Palestine;
35. Disapprove the ongoing Israeli illegal excavations, works, construction of private roads for settlers and a separation wall inside the Old City of Al-Khalil/Hebron, that harmfully affect the integrity of the site, and the subsequent denial of freedom of movement and freedom of access to places of worship, and urges Israel, the Occupying Power, to end these violations in compliance with provisions of relevant UNESCO Conventions, resolutions and decisions;
36. Deeply deplores the constant aggressions by the Israeli settlers and other extremist groups against Palestinian residents including schoolchildren and asks Israel, the Occupying Power, to prevent such aggressions;
37. Deeply regrets the Israeli refusal to comply with UNESCO decision 185 EX/Decision 15 which requests the Israeli authorities to remove the two Palestinian sites from its national heritage list and calls on Israel, the Occupying Power, to act in accordance with the mentioned decision;
38. Decides to include this item entitled "Occupied Palestine" in the agenda of the Executive Board at its 199th session, and invites the Director-General to submit to it a progress report on these matters.
33 Implementation of 37 C/Resolution 67 and 196 EX/Decision 27 concerning educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Arab territories4 (197 EX/33; 197 EX/53)
The Executive Board,
1. Recalling 37 C/Resolution 67 and 185 EX/Decision 36 as well as Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with regard to the right to education, Articles 4 and 94 of the Fourth Geneva Convention with regard to the denial of the right of children to education, as well as the Hague Convention (1954) and its additional Protocols and the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972),
2. Also recalling the Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the "Legal consequences of the construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian territory",
3. Having examined document 197 EX/33,
4. Committed to the safeguarding of monuments, works of art, manuscripts, books and other historical and cultural properties to be protected in the event of conflict, as well as the safeguarding of schools and all educational facilities,
5. Deplores the damaging impact of the military confrontations in and around the Gaza Strip in the fields of competence of UNESCO where several hundreds of educational and cultural facilities were destroyed or damaged, affecting more than 500,000 school children and students as reflected in OCHA, UNRWA and UNESCO reports, as well as the severe damages inflicted to cultural heritage sites and cultural institutions, also deplores breaches of the inviolability of UNRWA schools;
6. Expresses its deep concern about the recent escalation of the situation and its effect on the full exercise of the right to education by schoolchildren and students;
7. Reaffirms, in this regard, that schools, universities and cultural heritage sites enjoy special protection and, should not be targeted in situations of armed conflict;
8. Expresses its growing concern about the harmful impact of the Wall and other practices on the activities of educational and cultural institutions, as well as obstacles resulting therefrom which prevent Palestinian schoolchildren and students from being an integral part of their social fabric and from exercising fully their right to education, and calls for the observance of the provisions of relevant UNESCO Conventions, resolutions and decisions;
9. Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, cease all of its settlement activities, the construction of the Wall and other measures aimed at altering the character status, and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem as well as in Cremisan Valley region, which, inter alia, negatively impacts Palestinian schoolchildren's ability to fully exercise their right to education;
10. Also notes with deep concern the Israeli censorship on the Palestinian curricula of schools and universities in East Jerusalem and urges Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately halt this censorship;
11. Expresses its appreciation for the substantial contributions of all concerned Member States and intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations to UNESCO's action in Palestine, and appeals to them to continue assisting UNESCO in this endeavour;
12. Thanks the Director-General for the results that have been obtained in relation to the implementation of a number of current educational and cultural activities, and invites her to strengthen UNESCO's assistance to the Palestinian educational and cultural institutions in order to address new needs;
13. Encourages the Director-General to continue to reinforce her action in favour of the protection, reconstruction, rehabilitation and restoration of the Palestinian archaeological sites and cultural heritage and invites her to address the needs for capacity-building in all UNESCO's fields of competence by expanding the financial assistance programme for Palestinian students;
14. Requests the Director-General to organize, as soon as possible, the ninth meeting of the Joint UNESCO-Palestine Committee.
3 The Executive Board adopted this decision following a roll-call vote: 26 votes in favour, 6 votes against and 25 abstentions:
The following States having voted for the adoption:, Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belize, Brazil, Chad, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates,
The following State having voted against: Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Netherlands, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America.
Abstentions: Albania, Angola, Austria, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Italy, Japan, Malawi, Montenegro, Nepal , Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine.
* The 10 Executive Board decisions: 185 EX/Decision 14, 186 EX/Decision 11, 187 EX/Decision 11,189 EX/Decision 8, 190 EX/Decision 13, 191 EX/Decision 9, 192 EX/Decision 11, 194 EX/Decision 11, 195 EX/Decision 9, 196 EX/Decision 26
The 6 World Heritage Committee resolutions: 34 COM/7A.20, 35 COM/7A.22, 36 COM/7A.23, 37 COM/7A.26, 38COM/7A.4, 39 COM/7A.27
4 The Executive Board adopted this decision upon a recommendation made by the Programme and External Relations Commission (PX) following a roll-call vote: 40 votes in favour, 1 vote against and 11 abstentions:
The following States having voted for the adoption: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Belize, Brazil, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mexico, Montenegro, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The following State having voted against: United States of America.
Abstentions: El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gambia, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine.
Absent: Afghanistan, Angola, Chad, Mozambique, Pakistan, Turkmenistan.
Source: UNESCO, (October 28, 2015).