November 28, 2015 / 3:21 PM / 3 years ago

Egyptian Coptic Pope makes rare Jerusalem visit

Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II (C), head of the Coptic Orthodox church, arrives to the funeral of Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Near East, in Jerusalem's Old City November 28, 2015. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Egyptian head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros, made a rare visit to Jerusalem to preside over the funeral on Saturday of a Coptic bishop.

The previous Coptic pope banned worshippers from traveling to Jerusalem more than three decades ago, despite a 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Since his death in 2012 Egyptian Copts have increasingly been seen on pilgrimages to the city.

Speaking outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, revered as the burial place of Jesus, Pope Tawadros said his trip was personal, and church officials said it was not political.

Israel captured East Jerusalem and its walled Old City in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians want it as the capital of a future state.

Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Dominic Evans

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