March 12, 2010

Jewish Sites Only Recognized Holy Sites in Israel
Friday 12th March, 2010

The U.S. State Department says Israel is recognizing Jewish sites only as religious sites.

Christian and Muslim churches and mosques are not recognized by the Jewish state, and thus have no protection from future redevelopment by property developers.

The State Department raised the concern in its yearly human rights survey. It says the 1967 Protection of Holy Sites Law has been imposed on 137 Jewish sites only, meaning Christian and Muslim sites are "neglected, inaccessible, or threatened by property development."

"The Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other well-known sites have de facto protection as a result of their international importance; however, community mosques, churches, and shrines faced threats from developers and municipalities that Jewish sites did not face," the report says.

Pope Benedict prayed at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre when he visited the Holy Land in May last year.

The State Department survey states, "Christian pilgrimage sites around the Sea of Galilee faced regular threats of encroachment from government planners who wanted to use parts of the properties for recreational areas."

Major Protestant denominations that have been in the country for many years, such as the Anglicans, Assemblies of God, Baptists, and Lutherans, among others, are not recognized by Israel, the State Department report said.