Church of Holy Sepulchre facing closure

By Hadas Haimov, November 6, 2012
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Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (Photo: AP)

Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (Photo: AP)

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre’s bank account has been frozen over an unpaid £1.5m water bill.

The church, located in the old city of Jerusalem, is said to be the site of Jesus's crucifixion and burial and is one of the most venerated sites for Christians around the world.

According to an agreement between the church and former Jerusalem mayor, Teddy Kollek, it was exempt from water payments. But when Jerusalem Water Company, Hagihon, took over the water supply to the city in the late 1990s, bills were sent to the Patriarchate, which ignored them thinking it was a mistake.

Church spokesman Issa Musleh said that since their account was blocked, payments for more than 500 priests and monks, 2,000 teachers and over 30 Christian schools have been held up.

Officials say they are considering closing the church as protest against this dispute, turning away over a million pilgrims each year.

Theophilos III, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, sent an urgent massage to US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin asking for help in the matter.

Last updated: 2:18pm, November 6 2012