Such free access to the site where St. John the Baptist is said to have baptized Jesus more than 2,000 years ago has been rare in the 50 years since Mr. Yerezian was a teenage clergyman.
Israel wrested control of this West Bank area, known as Qasr al-Yahud, from Jordan in the 1967 war. It then mined the entire site on the banks of the Jordan River to ward off attacks from across the border. But Israel signed a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994 and their border has been relatively quiet for more than 20 years.
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