Bethlehem (Agenzia Fides) - The Russian government has decided to finance $ 4 million in restoration and reconstruction work in the historic center of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. In particular, urban renovation works will focus on "Star street", which crosses the old city of Bethlehem, and the adjacent streets. The project for renovating streets and buildings of the Palestinian city - explained Sputnik Aydar Aganin, head of the Office of Representation of Russia to the Palestinian National Authority - will be realized in collaboration with the Palestinian Ministry of Finance and the authorities of the municipality of Bethlehem, led by mayor Vera Baboun. The renovation works will start in September 2017.
"Star street", about a kilometer long, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as "Pilgrims Route" in 2012. It begins at the roundabout of the Catholic Action Center and ends at the arch called Zarrarah, also known by locals as "Damascus Gate", an ancient entrance to the city. According to tradition, it is believed that this is the way Mary and Joseph were coming to Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem. In recent years, Star street, rich in shops and full of life, has suffered the crisis and the decline that afflicts Bethlehem, whose territory, crossed by the "separation wall" wanted by the Israeli authorities, is surrounded by Israeli settlements.
Meanwhile, during his recent visit to Moscow - where he also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was also received at the St. Daniel Monastery by Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russians. During their meeting on 12 May, Patriarch Kirill repeated to President Abbas that the concern for the preservation of sacred places "is in the heart of every Orthodox", and recalled that "throughout the history of his presence in the Holy Land, the Russian Church has always sought to help the Palestinian people, even by building schools and medical facilities. Then, Kirill added, there was a time when the Church was not able to carry out this mission. We are pleased that Russia is now continuing the humanitarian mission in Palestinian territories". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 16/5/2017)