Palestinian Muslims to restore Bethlehem church
Palestinian Muslims to renovate the holiest church in Christianity
The first stage of the restoration of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, where Jesus was born, has been completed.
For the first time you can see beautiful mosaics said Ziad al-Bandak, who leads the Palestinian committee in charge of the renovation.
Before the project, the roof was in urgent need of repair, and leaks had ruined a significant number of the church's mosaics and paintings. Now that the roof has been structurally repaired, these treasured art works have been restored to their former beauty.
Due to the tense relations between the various Christian denominations and the lack of funds, renovations had been put off because custom dictates that whichever Christian denomination pays for the renovation becomes the owner of the renovated portion.
This stalemate was overcome through the involvement of the Palestinian authority which provided the funding, even though it faces severe financial constraints.
The Palestinian government has paid nearly \$8 million and the international team working on the church, includes Italians who specialize in the renovation of historical sites.
The structural issues with the roof have been resolved and, for the first time in 1000 years, the mosaic tiles have been retouched.
The full restoration is expected to take at least another three years and is predicted to cost a further \$11 million.
Although the Church does not have the money yet, President Mahmoud Abbas instructed the workers to continue with the work. President Abbas said that the church is a holy place and the money will be found.