Israel

The leaders of a number of Christian denominations in Jerusalem issued an unusual joint statement in which they criticized the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the sale of three properties by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to an organization that seeks to increase Jewish presence in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The church leaders warned that if Ateret Cohanim control the sites, Christians in the capital will lose access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

They called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and the Israeli government to intervene and act to preserve the status quo in the city, as well as help “preserve the secure presence” of the Christian community of Jerusalem.

The Supreme Court had approved the sale of the New Imperial Hotel and the Petra Hotel, which overlook the Jaffa Gate plaza at the entrance to the Old City, as well as another building in the Muslim Quarter. The judges rejected claims by the Patriarchate that the sale was illegal because it was carried out by unauthorized members of the church, and that Ateret Cohaniam had paid bribes to see the deal through.

Jerusalem’s Christian Leaders Blast Decision to Sell Old City Properties to Settler Group:
Church leaders warn that if Ateret Cohanim manages to ‘take over,’ Christians could lose access to holy sites, including Church of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Haaretz

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered a sacred structure known as a high place and a gate to a city that existed during the days of the Old Testament.

Professor Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska headed the excavation, which took place in the ancient city of Bethsaida in the Golan Heights-based Jordan Park.

Arav explained that the newly discovered high place was comprised of three stele, or standing up stones.

“One of the steles was iconic and depicts the moon-god of the Arameans. This is unusual discoveries since there are only six steles of this type preserved from the ancient world. One was discovered some years ago at Bethsaida, another one was discovered last week and four others were discovered in sites ranging from the northern Kingdom of Jordan to south Turkey. The moon-god was one of the most important gods of the Arameans.”
– Professor Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska who headed the excavation

Archaeological discovery: Old Testament-era gate, high place found:
Christian Post

Thousands of Christian pilgrims and clergy members marched through the ancient stone alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City, retracing Jesus’ path to crucifixion in observation of Good Friday.

The faithful carried wooden crosses high on their shoulders and sang hymns to mark one of Christianity’s most solemn and sacred days.

The confluence of Good Friday and the Jewish holiday of Passover led to flocks of tourists and a festive atmosphere in the holy city.

Worshippers from all over the world marched slowly along the Via Dolorosa, the cobblestone path that cuts through the Old City, where tradition says Jesus bore the cross to his crucifixion. The pilgrims stopped at several points on the way, re-enacting symbolic moments from Jesus’ story.

The procession culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe Jesus was buried before His resurrection on what is celebrated as Easter Sunday.

Christian pilgrims march through Jerusalem for Good Friday:
Minneapolis Star Tribune | The Philadelphia Tribune

Israel announced it will discontinue the “Government Christian Forum,” an initiative created in 2013 aimed at strengthening the relationship between the Christian community of Israel and the Israeli government.

“I have been informed that the Forum does not fall within the scope of the Public Security Ministry. Therefore, I have no choice but to discontinue the activity of the Forum as part of that ministry.”
– Dr. Mordechai (Moti) Zaken, head of Desk of Minorities Affairs of Israel

Zaken vowed to do his best to continue to work with “Christian leaders in Israel and abroad to foster Israeli-Christian friendship.”

Christian leaders are disappointed that productive meetings like this one will no longer be facilitated by the Government Christian Forum.

“I am Christian who has lived in Israel for 39 years. Over these many years I have worked to strengthen the relations between the State and the Christian community locally and abroad. In my time here I have found a lot of local enthusiasm for Christian support of Israel but very few officials who are willing to help our community in a practical way.”
– David Pileggi, Rector Christ Church Jerusalem, said in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Christian Leaders Disappointed After Israel Shuts Down Government Christian Forum:
CBN News