To ring in the New Year and the new decade, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Occupied Territories (COGAT) brought a tour of Christian leaders – which included the Vatican Ambassador to Israel – on an excursion Tuesday night throughout the holy churches of Jerusalem and the West Bank.The representatives of the Christian commonwealth, in addition to the Vatican's ambassador, included church leaders such as the Custos of the Holy Land, and the Latin and Greek Patriarchs, as well as Christian community leaders stretched across Israel and the Palestinian territories. During the traditional meeting led by Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukon, COGAT thanked church leaders for the fruitful relationship they share with the unit and the cooperation Christian leaders provide to assist with general initiatives carried out by the coordinator.In honor of Christmas, COGAT approved a series of civilian measures for the Christian populations of the Gaza Strip as well as those in Judea and Samaria. Christian families from Arab countries were allowed to participate in concentrated trips to visit Christian residents in the Palestinian territories, including trips to Eilat, which is surrounded by the coasts of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. Over the holidays, nearly 500 permits were issued to residents of Judea and Samaria to enter Israeli territory. The initiative also included family visits from foreign first and second relatives of residents living in the West Bank.In addition, there has been a large increase in permits allocated to church workers from Palestinian territories, as well as the permission for Palestinian religious workers to pass through the Jordan Valley checkpoint in order to visit holy Christian sites in the Galilee region."The government's coordinating unit in the occupied territories is working hard to promote the freedom of worship and religion, while maintaining the confidence of the faithful," said Abu Rukon. "Maintaining security stability in the region will ensure significant momentum in the tourism industry throughout Jerusalem and Bethlehem. And [these initiatives] will enable everyone to celebrate the New Year [peacefully, throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories]. "I personally wish for a blessed and safe year for all Christians in Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip and throughout the [Palestinian territories]," he said.