Jerusalem: Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopens

Source: Fides/ATS

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopened its doors this morning at 4am after an intervention by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthdox and Catholic church leaders in the Holy Land in charge of the Basilica, decided to close the doors on Sunday in protest at what they called the Israeli authority's "systematic campaign against Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the 'Status Quo'. (the set of rules and customs on which the coexistence between different religious communities in the Holy City has been founded since the time of the Ottoman Empire)

In a statement released yesterday afternoon by Mr Netanyahu's office, the Israeli government said it will seek solutions to overcome the dispute, together with the Christian Churches in the Holy Land. The negotiations will be conducted by a committee chaired by Tzachi Hanegbi, Israeli minister for regional cooperation.

In the meantime, the city authorities will stop efforts to seize the new back taxes from the churches.

Mr Netanyahu's office said that proposed legislation governing the sale and possible confiscation of church lands in Jerusalem was also being suspended.

Yesterday afternoon, Church leaders in charge of the Holy Sepulchre issued a statement to "give thanks to God" for the statement released by the government of Israel and offer gratitude to all those who have worked tirelessly to uphold the Christian presence in Jerusalem and to defend the 'Status Quo'. They said "the churches look forward to engage" with the team to ensure Jerusalem "remains a place where the three monotheistic faiths may live and thrive together."

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