The Palestinian Prime Minister of the appointed Fateh government in the West Bank, Salam Fayyad, told Christian worshipers in Bethlehem Sunday that it would not be long before the blockade would be lifted, and they would be able to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem as they had traditionally done for 2,000 years before Israeli authorities blocked access.Fayyad emphasized that Muslims and Christians in Palestine are brothers and sisters, and that Easter is an important holiday for both religions (Muslims recognize Jesus Christ as an important prophet in the lineage of prophets, although they do not accept him as the Messiah).

Easter is the day that Christians believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. The site of this occurrence is believed to be at the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which is where Christians from around the world come to celebrate Easter. Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza, however, are prevented from entering Jerusalem as they have traditionally done, except for a few who are granted special permits from Israel.

For hundreds of years, priests and devotees have led a march from Bethlehem to Jerusalem each year to commemorate Easter. But in 2002, Israeli forces constructed a 30-foot high concrete Wall across the road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, preventing the worshipers from following in Jesus’ footsteps and fully blocking the way to Jerusalem.

According to Salam Fayyad, the de facto Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, “ This holiday brings with it joy and the promise of a better future”. He added that soon, ‘We will celebrate this holiday at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in East Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Palestinian state, at a time when our aspirations for freedom and independence are realized.’