Jordan slams Israeli restrictions on Christians' access to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

Ahram Online , AP , Friday 14 Apr 2023

Jordan rejected and condemned Israeli "oppressive" restrictions imposed against Christians to access the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in occupied East Jerusalem for the celebration of the Holy Light ceremony on Saturday.

Orthodox Christian in Jerusalem
An Orthodox Christian pilgrim holds a wooden cross outside the Holy Sepulchre church during the Good Friday procession through the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering)in Jerusalem s Old City on April 14, 2023. AFP


In a statement, the ministry criticized these Israeli measures as collective punishment that targets the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem and its holy sites. It denounced them as a gross encroachment on the legal and historical status quo of the city and a clear violation of the occupying power's, Israel's, obligations.

“Israel, the occupying power, must respect the historical and legal status quo in Jerusalem and its sacred [sites], and stop all restrictive measures,” said spokesman Haitham Abu Al-Ful in a statement released by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry.

The ministry emphasized that such measures are illegal, unlawful and will not establish any rights for Israel in Jerusalem or the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. It further condemned them as a serious violation of international law, international humanitarian law, and signed agreements, as well as a provocation in a conflict area.

The ceremony is part of the orthodox churches Easter celebrations this week according to the Julian calendar and the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is a holy site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. 

Israeli police said the limits are needed for safety. Several clashes erupted between police and worshipers who were kept outside the compound.

Jerusalem churches have rejected the “heavy-handed” restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation forces, according to the Palestinian news agency, Wafa.

The Status Quo Committee of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Custody of the Holy Land, and the Armenian Patriarchate have issued a joint statement in which they described the restrictions as "unreasonable".

“Police are unfairly and inappropriately placing the burden on the churches to issue invitations while tying the churches' hands with unreasonable restrictions that will prevent worshippers from attending particularly our local community. This makes difficult our coordination with the police,” said the statement.

The influential Vatican-appointed Latin Patriarch, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, warned that the the most far-right Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has brought a surge of violence against Christians and made life worse in the birthplace of Christianity.

He told The Associated Press that the region’s 2,000-year-old Christian community has come under increasing attack, with the Israeli government emboldening extremists who have harassed clergy and vandalized religious property at a quickening pace.

The Palestinian Presidency earlier condemned and rejected the Israeli occupation restrictions on Christians calling on the international community, particularly the US administration, "to intervene immediately to stop these Israeli crimes, which affect the freedom of worship of Christian and Muslim believers alike".

"We strongly support the demands of the Jerusalem churches to allow free access and without problems for Christian pilgrims to attend the Saturday Holy Light ceremonies," the Presidency added.

Short link: