Jerusalem Patriarch Lays the Cornerstone of Rawabi’s First Church
Rawabi, February 12, 2013 — His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem all Palestine and Jordan, today blessed the cornerstone of Rawabi’s first Rum Orthodox Church in the presence of Consul General Sotirios Athanssiou of Greece; Hanna Amireh, Head of the Higher Committee for Church Affairs and PLO Executive Committee member; Ziad Bandak,Presidents’ Advisor for Christian Relations Affairs; Adnan Al-Husseini, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Governor of Jerusalem, and a delegation from the Holy Synod of the Rum Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
HB Theophilos III presided at the ceremony to lay the cornerstone of the first Christian church to be constructed in the new city of Rawabi. Completion of the church will coincide with the occupancy of the city’s first residents later this year. The master plan for Rawabi’s construction phases ensures that new homeowners will find essential components of daily life, such as Muslim and Christian houses of worship, ready upon arrival.
During the laying of the cornerstone ceremony, the Patriarch of Jerusalem remarked on his satisfaction with the central placement of the church in the new city’s residential areas in accordance with the master plan. He personally thanked Massar International Chairman Bashar Masri for the generous donation of the property upon which the church will be built, as well as the building’s architectural and engineering excellence. His Beatitude also credited the developer with a vision that is both inclusive and welcoming to Palestinians of all faiths and expressed his pleasure at the knowledge that Rawabi’s Christian and Muslim places of worship will be an integral part of the fabric of daily life.
After the ceremony, the delegation toured the city’s construction areas, including the first 3 neighborhoods and the city center. The delegation’s members were briefed on the city’s impact on Palestine’s economic, social and cultural sectors.
Hanna Amireh emphasized the encouragement and support the developer received from the Palestinian Leadership. “Rawabi is considered a very important milestone on the path to Palestinian statehood. The contribution that has been made to our economy in terms of both housing and job opportunities cannot be understated. Just as important, every Palestinian needs to realize how much Rawabi has also contributed to our national effort to remain steadfast on the land. Through Rawabi, we resist the expansion of Israeli settlements by creating a new reality as we build - significantly, impressively and permanently - on our own land.”
Adnan Al-Husseini, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Governor of Jerusalem, stated, “This project is enormous, not just in physical size, but in the size of its benefit to the Palestinian people. I am completely impressed at the level of detail which was taken into account at the master planning phase, which reflects both the highest and finest in international standards for design. I consider this project a source of pride for the Palestinian people and for the Arab world as a whole.”
Massar Chairman Masri thanked the Patriarch for his blessing of the church’s cornerstone. He outlined the current phase of development as well as future plans for facilities and infrastructure, including the city’s main mosque in the city center. Masri went on to express hope that Rawabi would someday serve as a model for the development of new metropolitan areas in Palestine that, like Rawabi, aim to strengthen the social fabric of life through carefully thought out urban planning and superior engineering and architectural design. He concluded by affirming that he also hoped that Rawabi will contribute to the eventual realization of the Palestinian dream of statehood.
The city of Rawabi is being constructed on 6,300 dunums (1,500 acres) of rolling hillsides that overlook the Mediterranean coastal plain. Once fully built, the city’s 23 neighborhoods will offer more than 5,000 state-of-the-art housing units as well as a sophisticated utilities and transportation infrastructure. First residential occupancy is anticipated at the end of 2013.