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Egypt’s Coptic Church condemns claims of normalisation with Israel

Egypt’s Coptic Church has refused claims of normalising ties with Israel and affirmed that Pope Tawadros II did not meet with any Israeli officials during his brief visit to Jerusalem, according to a statement released today.

Anadolu news agency reported that Tawadros II travelled to Jerusalem in order to pay tribute to Jerusalem Archbishop Anba Abraham who died last Wednesday.

The statement said that the Coptic Pope arranged his entrance to Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority without obtaining an Israeli visa.

In addition, the statement responded to claims that Tawadros II took an Israeli plane, saying: “That depended on the security arrangements, which the Pope had nothing to do with.”

Tawadros II returned to Egypt on board an Israeli plane, which carried the Israeli ambassador in Cairo to Tel Aviv to spend his weekend.

The Pope’s trip was the first since the Coptic Church banned visits to Jerusalem in 1980. Late Pope Shenouda III banned all Copts from visiting the holy city to protest Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem.

This policy remained in place even after Shenouda’s death in 2012 with his successor Tawadros II reiterating that visits to Jerusalem are forbidden while it is still under Israeli occupation.

The statement reiterated that the stance of the church remains unchanged, stating that the Copts have not changed their opinion of their Pope as they understand that paying tribute to the Archbishop of Jerusalem one of his necessary duties.

Egypt’s Coptic Church has refused claims of normalising ties with Israel and affirmed that Pope Tawadros II did not meet with any Israeli officials during his brief visit to Jerusalem, according to a statement released today.

Anadolu news agency reported that Tawadros II travelled to Jerusalem in order to pay tribute to Jerusalem Archbishop Anba Abraham who died last Wednesday.

The statement said that the Coptic Pope arranged his entrance to Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority without obtaining an Israeli visa.

In addition, the statement responded to claims that Tawadros II took an Israeli plane, saying: “That depended on the security arrangements, which the Pope had nothing to do with.”

Tawadros II returned to Egypt on board an Israeli plane, which carried the Israeli ambassador in Cairo to Tel Aviv to spend his weekend.

The Pope’s trip was the first since the Coptic Church banned visits to Jerusalem in 1980. Late Pope Shenouda III banned all Copts from visiting the holy city to protest Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem.

This policy remained in place even after Shenouda’s death in 2012 with his successor Tawadros II reiterating that visits to Jerusalem are forbidden while it is still under Israeli occupation.

The statement reiterated that the stance of the church remains unchanged, stating that the Copts have not changed their opinion of their Pope as they understand that paying tribute to the Archbishop of Jerusalem one of his necessary duties.

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