Amman: Jordan said Israel has agreed to allow
a UN mission to "investigate and assess" heritage conservation in
Jerusalem's Old City for the first time since 2004.
"Jordan and Palestine, supported by Arab states, succeeded in
pressuring Israel, for the first time since 2004, to accept and
facilitate a UNESCO experts' mission to investigate and assess the
status of heritage and conservation of the Old City of Jerusalem
and its walls," a palace statement said on Tuesday.
The mission will start its work on
May 15 "and it has to present its report and recommendations
before June 1, 2013, just before the beginning of the World
Heritage Committee 37th session," it added.
According to the palace, Israel confirmed its decision in a letter
to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and in a statement read
out on Tuesday at a meeting in Paris of UNESCO's executive board.
Israel also agreed to take part in a technical meeting of the UN
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation "to discuss
recent Israeli violations against the Mughrabi Gate," in
Jerusalem, it added.
The Mughrabi ramp leads from the plaza by the Western Wall, the
most sacred site at which Jews can pray, up to the adjoining the
sacred compound, known to Muslims as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which
houses Al-Aqsa Mosque.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry
spokesman confirmed to AFP that a UNESCO delegation would be
arriving "in the near future" but stressed it would visit heritage
sites "throughout Israel, not only in Jerusalem."
Cultural heritage has become a major issue for the two sides since
the Palestinians became a UNESCO member in 2011.
Tuesday's announcement comes after a
deal was struck in March by which the Palestinian Authority
confirmed a verbal agreement dating back to 1924 giving Jordan
custodianship over Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem.