An international delegation of bishops visiting the Holy land has called Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem “a scandal” to which “we must never become accustomed”. The Tablet has the story.
Returning from a visit to Gaza and the West Bank, the Holy Land Co-ordination group, consisting of 14 bishops and clergy from across Europe, North America and South Africa, said the situation violates the dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis.
"For 50 years the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza have languished under occupation, violating the human dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis. This is a scandal to which we must never become accustomed," the group's statement began.
In 1967, during the Six-Day War against Egypt, Jordan and Syria, Israel occupied Sinai, Gaza, the Golan Heights, West Bank and East Jerusalem. Gaza is now governed by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The Chair of the group, British Bishop Declan Lang, said: "We must pray for peace for everyone in this land; two peoples and three faiths.
"We must all make ourselves aware of the situation. Having informed ourselves of the reality, we must then take action, by supporting the charities active in the Holy Land, by coming on pilgrimage and by contacting our elected representatives”.
The group said the expansion of Israeli settlements - a process condemned by a UN Security Council resolution last month - “imperils the chance of peace”.
The group was set up at the end of the 20th century at the invitation of the Holy See in order to visit and support the local Christian communities in the Holy Land and to find ways to raise awareness in their own countries.
Photo: Bishops from the US, Canada and Europe walk through a street in Hebron, West Bank, on January 16 (CNS)
STATEMENT IN FULL
Bishops call for action after fifty years of occupation in the Holy Land (Catholic Church in England and Wales)