World News

Israel stops issuing visas to Christian clergy

Local reports claim that evangelical Christian organisations are no longer able to acquire visas for staff working in the country, even those that are pro-Israel.

According to David Parsons, vice president and senior spokesperson of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ): “We are slowly being squeezed out of existence by the interior ministry. We cannot continue our vital work to build global Christian support for Israel under these strict new rules.”

The ICEJ has been the driving force behind the attempts to open embassies for large evangelical Christian populations in Israel. Authorities, however, are acting suspiciously towards Christians, often accusing them with their outreach work being a cover for converting Jews to Christianity.

According to the ICEJ, the problems started when new work visas were not issued during the Covid pandemic. Since the new Israeli government was established in December 2022, visas for preachers are clergy are also difficult to obtain. In 2020, authorities also took a Christian TV station off air. 

Mr Parsons was shocked to learn that the Israeli interior ministry had decided the ICEJ could not be considered a religious institution, therefore, they rejected their clergy visa applications. “This denial comes despite the fact that we are in both name and nature a Christian organisation, are duly registered as a ‘Christian association’ and have been receiving clergy visas from the ministry of interior for decades”.

Some evangelical organisations have focused on helping Holocaust survivors. They say this is an attempt to right the wrongs of Christian Europe’s past. The ICEJ has assisted around 180,000 Jews in moving to Israel. It also hosts the Feast of the Tabernacles – a massive Christian religious tourism and prayer festival held at holy sites in Israel.

Christian Palestinians face harsh oppression and are targeted by ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists. A group called Berslav Hasidim has been harassing the Catholic monastery of Stella Maris in Haifa. 


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