(RT) — One of the holiest sites in the Christian world, believed to be the place of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, is now under threat of being closed over unpaid water bills.
Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Church of the Resurrection, was founded during the rule of Emperor Constantine the Great in the 4th century and withstood invasions, fires and earthquakes. But now, more than 1,600 years later, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which maintains most of the complex, may close the temple’s doors as the city’s water company Hagihon demands payment of a US$2.3 million bill dating back 15 years, including interest.
“If nothing changes we intend to announce within a few days, for the first time in centuries, that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is closed,” Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III said on Friday, as quoted by RIA Novosti news agency.
For decades there has been a tacit agreement between the church and city authorities that exempted it from water charges. But in the late 1990s private company Hagihon took over water supply in Jerusalem and now insists that Israeli laws do not permit the company to make such exemptions.