Jerusalem, February 28: Christian leaders in Jerusalem said that they would reopen the ancient Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Wednesday, closed since the weekend in protest at Israeli tax measures.
"We hereby announce that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre... will be reopened to the pilgrims tomorrow, February 28th, 2018 at 4:00 AM," said a joint statement issued last night. The announcement came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said a "professional team" would be appointed to resolve the financial dispute.
The closure -- which seemed to be the longest since at least 1990 -- has left thousands of pilgrims and tourists seeking to visit the site locked outside. The church is built where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. Custody of it is shared by the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations.
Yesterday's statement was signed by the heads of all three faiths in the Holy Land. "We... give thanks to God for the statement released earlier today by Prime Minister Netanyahu and offer our gratitude to all those who have worked tirelessly to uphold the Christian presence in Jerusalem," it said.
Christian leaders are in part angry over attempts by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem to enforce tax collection on church property they consider commercial, saying exemptions only apply to places of worship or religious teaching.