The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem



March 19, 2019
Archbishop Suheil and the Heads of the Churches are briefed on the mine-clearing at the River Jordan.


Today, Archbishop Suheil and the other Heads of the Churches in the Holy Land met with the President of Israel at the Baptismal Site of the Jordan river to receive a briefing from the Halo Trust on the progress they have made in clearing the thousands of landmines planted along the Jordanian border after the 1967 War.

To date, the acclaimed British organization has safely removed 400 of 2000 antitank mines, as well as hundreds more antipersonnel devices and booby traps from the area, totally clearing five of eight monasteries there. They are hoping to have the area completely cleared by sometime next year.

Separately, the President unveiled conceptual plans for a larger visitor's center on the Israeli side of the river, with dedicated places for each of the recognized denominations, including the Anglican Church. In addition, he stated that the Israeli government is currently in negotiations with a company to purify the river of upstream agricultural runoff.

Finally, and most intriguingly, the President revealed that there have been early and promising discussions with the Jordanian government to make the binational area around the site a controlled "free zone," where visitors from both countries could venture to either side of the river, returning to the side from which they came at the conclusion of their visit.

In making this announcement, the President emphasized the powerful symbolic value of such international cooperation, since it would be emanating from both the place where Jesus was baptized and where Elijah parted the waters, soon to be taken into heaven by a chariot of fire.




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