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Saturday, November 3, 2012
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate threatens to close down Church of Holy Sepulcher if have to pay water bill

Clergy says Crisis over Church Water Bill could Trigger Conflict
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=20974

JERUSALEM, November 3, 2012 (WAFA) – Father Issa Musleh, spokesman for the
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Saturday warned that an attempt by Israel to
change the status quo regarding churches in East Jerusalem could trigger an
international conflict.

Speaking to WAFA, Musleh said that the Greek Orthodox Church threatened to
close the doors of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem if the
Israeli water supply company, Gihon, insists on freezing the Church’s bank
account because of unpaid water bills.

Gihon got a court order to freeze the account of the Greek Orthodox Church
claiming the Church did not pay $2.3 million in supposedly overdue water
bills.

The Church says there is a decades-old status quo agreement that allows it
not to pay water bills.

Musleh charged that the employees of the water supplier company deal with
the Church in inappropriate manner.

“If they want to cut water off then we will ask the pilgrims and visitors to
bring their own water with them and we will explain to them what is
happening so that they would know about the Israeli arbitrary policies being
practiced against the holy places,” he said.

In 2004, Gihon violated the agreement adopted since 1969 which excludes the
Church of Holy Sepulcher from paying the water bill, he said.

Musleh warned that closing the Church will only escalate the situation
leading to an international conflict.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III said that maintaining the status quo
that helped protect the Church of Holy Sepulcher for decades is crucial.

M.H./M.S.

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