Closure of Jerusalem church transforms domestic agendas into international diplomatic incident

Christian leaders took the rare step of closing the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built at the site of Jesus's burial in Jerusalem, in protest at Israeli tax measures and a proposed property law.
Christian leaders took the rare step of closing the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built at the site of Jesus's burial in Jerusalem, in protest at Israeli tax measures and a proposed property law.PHOTO: AFP

TEL AVIV - Usually, the various Christian denominations represented in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre are known to engage in eternal brotherly strife. That makes it all the more significant that on Sunday (Feb 25), they managed to cast their numerous differences aside to reach an unprecedented decision.

In protest against Israel's allegedly "systematic campaign against the churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land", Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Francesco Patton, custos of the Holy Land, and Nourhan Manougian, the Armenian Patriarch, ordered the gates of the world's holiest church shut indefinitely.

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