Finish with forty years war, Jerusalem Christian leaders say

Describing the "daily hardships and humiliations" of Palestinians as "unacceptable", Jerusalem's Christian leaders have called on Israel to end its occupation of territories and for the recognition of a Palestinian state.

Catholic News reports that the leaders issued their call on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Israeli-Arab war, asking all people to "work diligently for peace" as God's children.

"It is totally unacceptable for the situation to continue where the Palestinians endure daily hardships and humiliations with deprivations of international human rights, allegedly to ensure the safety and security of the Israelis, whereas we believe the security of Israel is dependent on the freedom and justice of the Palestinians," the church leaders said in their letter on 27 May.

They noted that their position on Jerusalem, stated in November, includes recognising the rights of the three monotheistic faiths - Christianity, Islam and Judaism - and the needs of the Israelis and Palestinians in the city.

"Now we sincerely believe it is time to intensify action, particularly through negotiation, to end occupation, establish an independent Palestinian state ... with borders clearly defined, thus giving both peoples, Israelis and Palestinians alike, human dignity, security and equal opportunities," they said.

"Many injustices have to be reversed, not least the restoration of land to lawful indigenous owners and the so-called (Israeli) security wall demolished," they added.

Catholic signatories of the letter included Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah; Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is in charge of Christian sites in the Holy Land; Maronite Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayah of Haifa; Melkite Bishop George Baker and Armenian Catholic Father Rafael Minassian.

In the 1967 war, also known as the Six-Day War, Israel captured East Jerusalem, inhabited by Palestinians, as well as the West Bank, Gaza Strip and other areas. The security wall the leaders referred to is a series of barbed wire fences, security roads and looming cement slabs which, if completed as planned, would stretch nearly 400 miles and restrict the movements of 38 per cent of residents of the West Bank.

The Christian leaders also urged Christians to join in the second International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, which will take place from 3-9 June, simultaneously in the Holy Land and in various Christian communities around the world.

The initiative involves groups that support the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel and have organised unconnected events such as symposiums, conferences and solidarity visits during that period.

Last year the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi International also participated in the initiative. Several groups reported participation by Jews and Muslims as well.

40 years after war, Jerusalem's Christian leaders urge work for peace (Catholic Online, 30/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Jerusalem

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Biblical lamentations as Gaza descends into disaster (CathNews, 12/7/06)

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