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Jerusalem Heritage and Life

Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 14.07.2006:

Old City of Jerusalem Revitalisation Plan

Welfare Association/Old City of Jerusalem Revitalisation Programme

Ramallah, 2003

This publication is the updated English version of the first Palestinian-initiated development plan for the Old City of Jerusalem, originally published in Arabic in 2002. It forms a dynamic and practical guideline for the comprehensive revitalization and rehabilitation of the delicate urban fabric of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The plan is being used by the Welfare Association?’s Old City of Jerusalem Revitalisation Programme (OCJRP) in implementing its restoration and rehabilitation projects, but it will also be a useful reference and a planning tool for other Palestinian institutions interested in Old City development. The publication will also be informative for urban planners working in other cities as a kind of emergency priority plan for a World Heritage City at risk and under occupation. It documents the deterioration in living conditions in the Moslem and Christian quarters and identifies priority areas for restoration and rehabilitation of infrastructure, sadly neglected in recent decades.

The plan was based on more than a dozen sector surveys on the historical, physical, social and economic features of the Old City and workshops which analyzed their findings. The surveys, carried out by a multi-sector team of Palestinian experts, are summarized in separate chapters. The level of information provided is extremely detailed and unveils the complex layers in the Old City, for example, noting the patterns of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, types of property ownership and property laws, kind and conditions of buildings (roofs, ceilings and floors), inadequacies in the electrical grids, types and location of water connections, and sewage and garbage capacities, among other issues. It includes a case study of the Aqabat al-Khalidiyya area, in a particularly vulnerable and neglected part of the Old City, and showcases the work of the OCJRP in rehabilitating ahwash and other buildings.

The plan was carefully developed in consideration of the current political, legal and administrative constraints but, to its credit, tries to forge a rational developmental path that can be adapted to the existing conditions. For example, how can Palestinians anticipate natural population growth and net migration in the face of constantly changing restrictive Israeli residency regulations? And what is the impact of these regulations on available housing in the Old City? The plan focuses on the need to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of the Old City, to upgrade its services and utilities, to regenerate the economy and improve the living conditions of its inhabitants and offer solutions to some of the more pressing problems. The large format publication includes several hundred outstanding photographs of monuments, sites and architectural features of the Old City, as well as GIS maps and informational tables. It will go far to change the perceptions and raise awareness of readers who have never experienced Jerusalem, and even of those who live in the city, that it is a truly living heritage, with an active and resourceful population, with a wealth of Arab history and culture on every street.


This Week in Palestine

December 2003

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