Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II in Jerusalem. (AP/Mahmoud Illean) (AP/Mahmoud Illean)
Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II in Jerusalem

Despite a ban on visiting Israel, the head of Egypt’s Coptic church made an historic visit to the Jewish State.

The leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church is making a rare visit to Israel to attend the funeral of a senior Coptic official in Jerusalem.

Pope Tawadros II broke a ban on pilgrimages to take part in Saturday’s funeral of Archbishop Anba Abraham, the head of the Coptic Church in the Holy Land, at a church at the Holy Sepulcher compound, where the Coptic Church has maintained a presence since early Christianity.

The travel ban to Israel was imposed by Tawadros’s predecessor, the late Shenouda III, who opposed the normalization of ties between Egypt and Israel.

A 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty ended hostilities between the two neighbors, but anti-Israel sentiments still run high in Egypt and many there have accused Tawadros of betrayal.

Tawadros insisted he was not making an official visit and was merely there to “bid farewell to a very important person.”

Despite the ban, hundreds of Egyptian Copts have reportedly visited Israel over the past years during Easter.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff