For the first time in over a century the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is closed till further notice. The Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Nourhan Manougian, and the Roman Catholic Custos, Francesco Patton, took the rare step to protest ongoing Israeli actions and proposed laws. Already, the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, along with other institutions including the UN, have had their bank accounts frozen by the Israeli government. The Anglican diocese is a key provider of humanitarian assistance in Palestinian East Jerusalem and territories running numerous hospitals and schools.
Under international law and numerous United Nations resolutions, Israel does not own Jerusalem. Some religious and political observers have seen this increased pressure against Christians since December as a direct result of the American government’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as Israel seeks to further push the boundaries of the antique status quo in Jerusalem and its holy sites.
Christian leaders in Jerusalem have called the movement against Christians dire, noting that, “The systematic campaign of abuse against Churches and Christians now reaches its peak as a discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian community in the Holy Land is being promoted. This abhorrent bill is set to advance today in a meeting of a ministerial committee which if approved would make the expropriation of the lands of churches possible. This reminds us all of the laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during dark periods in Europe.”
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem in this season of reconciliation.