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Saturday, December 10, 2016
A faithful appeal from the Churches of Jerusalem
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 The patriarchs, archbishops and bishops who head the Churches of the Holy Land have issued the following joint statement: "They act as if my people's wounds were only scratches. 'All is well,' they say, when all is not well." Jeremiah 6:14 On 28 September 2000, following the provocative visit of the Israeli opposition Likud leader to the esplanade of the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, a new Palestinian uprising burst forth in the Holy Land. This incident itself, as much as the events that ensued, should have clearly signalled to both the Israeli and Palestinian leadership the dire need to press on with their dialogue addressing the whole process of peace and in resolving all outstanding issues - including the question of Jerusalem. Yet, Israel preferred to respond with an even larger recourse to force. Fully conscious of our duty as religious leaders, we look with extreme pain and sadness at all the deaths, injuries and handicaps of this latest outburst. Although both peoples have been affected by the events of the past five weeks, we cannot but also note that the overwhelming majority of the victims are Palestinians. We voice our profound solidarity and deep sympathy with all of them, and offer our condolences to the families of all those - young or old - who have lost their lives or sustained injuries. We believe that it is truly time to put an end to such cycles of mutual disaster. We stress that the rights of one people are also the rights of the other people. Palestinians should be able to enjoy their own full security and to protect their interests and those of their people as much as Israel should be able to enjoy its full security and to protect its interests and those of its people. Both peoples can then live peacefully side by side, each in their own sovereign state, without being a source of fear for the other. But so long as one people remains the subject of injustice, it will continue to be a constant source of fear and insecurity for its neighbour. The Church believes that it is the right as much as duty of an occupied people to struggle against injustice in order to gain their freedom, although it also believes that non-violent means of struggle remain stronger and far more efficient. In this sense, both parties must show the necessary fortitude, both in their hearts and in their minds, to look at the core of the conflict so that the Palestinian people can gain at long last its full freedom within its own sustainable state. It is imperative now to implement the principles of international legitimacy by enforcing the binding UN Security Council resolutions. Such fortitude is a wise sign of foresight and an indispensable pre-requisite for long-lasting peace. It remains our conviction that justice will eventually prevail and violence will inevitably cease one day. Only then can reconciliation bring both peoples together again. As such, it would be much wiser and more courageous to go directly to a dialogue that secures peace through those elements of justice, security and dignity without suffering many more episodes of painful violence. Today, from the Holy City of Jerusalem, we cry out our desire to see peace with justice, equality and security established soon between Palestinians and Israelis on this holy land that was chosen by God to reveal His wisdom to human beings. We appeal to all Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches world-wide, as well as to all 'friends of peace' in our land, in the region and across the whole world to toil together for the establishment of a comprehensive, just and durable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Peace in justice remains the absolute and inviolable right of both peoples of this land. Peace should not be sacrificed for political pride. After all, peace can only be the fruit of justice. "Some trust in their war chariots and others in their horses, but we trust in the power of the Lord our God." Psalm 20:7. Signed on 9 November 2000 by: His Beatitude Diodoros I Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Michel Sabbah Latin Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Torkom Manoogian Armenian Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem His Eminence Fr Giovanni Battisteli Custos of the Holy Land, Latin Catholic Church His Eminence Abraham Coptic Orthodox Church Archbishop in Jerusalem His Grace, Abuna Matheus Ethiopian Orthodox Archbishop in Jerusalem His Grace Lutafi Laham Greek Catholic Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar His Grace, Andre Bedoghlian Archbishop of the Armenian Catholic Church His Grace Paul Sayyah Patriarchal Vicar, Maronite Church in Jerusalem His Grace, Mar Swerios Maki Murad Syrian Orthodox Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar to Jerusalem, Jordan and the Holy Land His Grace Butros Abdul Ahad Syrian Catholic Bishop in Jerusalem His Grace Riah Abu Al-Assal Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem His Grace Munib Younan Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jerusalem
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