Govt., City to Foot Water Bill for Old City Church
The Israeli government has volunteered to pay a NIS 9 million ($2.3 million) water bill for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Church has not paid its water bill for the past 8 years, and after negotiations, the government and the municipality of Jerusalem have taken it upon themselves to pay the Gihon water company for the Church's water usage.
The arrangement was made after intense negotiations between the Church, the government, and the water company. The negotiations began after the company threatened to cut off the Church's water supply because it was in such arrears. Under the arrangement, the three bodies that share control of the site - Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Roman Catholic Franciscan Order Churches – will begin paying the Church's bill this year.
The Church and the water company further discussed the possibility of setting up a fund that would pay for water for poor families belonging to the Church, with contributions from both sides.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is considered the most important site in Jerusalem for Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, and has been the subject of a long-standing power struggle between numerous churches and orders that has sometimes led to violence.