JERUSALEM, Saturday, March 28, 2020 (WAFA) – In light of the difficult economic situation and closure of shops as a result of the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease, Jerusalem’s Orthodox Church today joined the city‘s Islamic Waqf in exempting their Old City‘s Palestinian tenants from rent for the year 2020.
“Following the noble initiative of His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, Hashemite Custodian of the Islamic and Christian Holy Sites in the Holy Land, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, today exempted all tenants of properties of the Orthodox Church within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem from rent for the year 2020,” said a statement by the church. “This action is taken in support of the diverse community of Jerusalem, and to enhance the steadfastness of its residents in light of the exceptional circumstances of the Coronavirus epidemic.”
Patriarch Theophilos said that the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem wants to support the local community materially and morally to face the difficulties associated with the Coronavirus epidemic, adding that the doors of the Patriarchate are open to every person who needs help in facing the current circumstances, and called on everyone to adhere to the instructions of the authorities regarding social distancing, home isolation and taking the necessary measures to overcome the crisis.
“His Beatitude prayed that Almighty God would lift the epidemic and send down His mercy upon his creation,” it said.
Father Issa Musleh, spokesperson for the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said that the patriarch is working to increase the effectiveness of the Patriarchate’s institutions in facing the epidemic of the Coronavirus, adding that in addition to this most recent step, the Patriarchate has led a campaign to support the residents of the Governorate of Bethlehem through the distribution of 1,200 food parcels, and has donated 50,000 Jordanian dinars (app. $70,000) to the Jordanian Ministry of Health.
“These are a matter of social responsibility, drawing on the Church’s commitment to serve the community, and to provide everything possible in support of people in these difficult circumstances,” he said.
King Abdullah last week instructed the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, which is part of the Jordanian Ministry of Religious Affairs, to exempt its Jerusalem Old City tenants from rent for this year to help them overcome corona’s financial difficulties.
The Palestinian Authority thanked Jordan and the Orthodox Church for this initiative in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Ramzi Khoury, head of the Higher Presidential Committee for Church Affairs, said in a statement that this move will help Palestinians in Jerusalem remain steadfast in their city, the capital of the State of Palestine, in these dire economic conditions resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.
He clarified that the exemption decision affects homes and shops in the old city “to enable the Palestinian citizens to overcome the difficult financial effects and face the harsh (Israeli) occupation measures against them aimed at emptying the occupied capital of its (Palestinian) citizens.”