Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II departed for a controversial visit to Israel on Thursday to attend the funeral of a senior church official, a church spokesman said.

“The decision by Pope Tawadros to travel to Jerusalem at the head of a distinguished delegation of bishops to participate in the funeral of Archbishop Anba Abraham will create a huge firestorm in Egypt,” Samuel Tadros, an Egypt expert and research fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told The Jerusalem Post.