The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has sent a message to the Middle East negotiators in Washington to stress the concerns of Palestinian Christians. The message conveys concern over the final status of Jerusalem, the future of the Christians there and the need for a just peace in the region.
"Now is the time for a just peace," Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit says in the message from Jerusalem, where he is visiting this week with a WCC delegation. "The Christians here pray for that; all peoples here need it desperately. The time of occupation and violence must end."
The message also talks about the need for the final negotiations on the status of Jerusalem to involve the heads of the local churches. "Palestinian Christians are also concerned about their future here and about their status in Jerusalem," his message said.
In the message Tveit also says the Christians in Jerusalem are "very much concerned by the discourse about religious identity of states in this region, which they fear will marginalize not only their presence and witness but also that of all Christians elsewhere in the region."
The message came as discussions between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams were about to resume. At a meeting between US President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, 1 September, each of the leaders pledged to work diligently toward peace.