The Presidential Committee for Church Affairs in Palestine announced on November 11, 2019 that it had reached an agreement with the Catholic Church and the two other confessions administering the Basilica of the Nativity. This agreement makes it possible to extend the open hours of the holy place during Advent and Christmas, so as to deal with the endless queues.
Bethlehem and Jerusalem are the main holy destinations for tourists coming to Palestine. In the first half of 2019, the tourist and sacred sites of the West Bank registered the presence of 1,726,560 visitors, 17% more than last year during the same period.
Statistical data from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities confirm that Bethlehem is the favorite destination for pilgrims, especially during Advent and Christmas time.
In order to facilitate Christians’ access to the very place of the birth of the Redeemer, it was necessary to work out a compromise among the three communities jointly administering the Basilica. Since the Statu Quo of 1852, the Catholic Church and two autocephalous confessions called the “Armenian Apostolic Church” and the “Orthodox Church” share the management of the sanctuary.
On November 11, 2019, an agreement was reached to extend the visit times of the basilica by three hours. Pilgrims will be able to visit there from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.—a way to remedy the long lines of faithful who often waited up to two hours before they could access the Silver Star placed on the same place where the Word was made flesh.