Bethlehem - Jerusalem peace walk planned for 31 December


 On the last day of the year, peace campaigners plan to walk from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to call for the opening of Jerusalem and an end of the occupation. Organised by the heads of the churches in Jerusalem, the march will end in prayers for peace in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Saint Anne's Church, before joining other groups to form a human ring around the Old City. The president of Pax Christi International, Mgr. Michel Sabbah, with other priests and religious will lead the march. A spokesman said: "In announcing these demands to the world, we wish to express our deep-felt commitment to end the suffering and violence, and to work for a peace marked by justice and reconciliation." A special logo depicting an olive tree has been chosen for the day. Many taking part will hold olive branches. There will be moments of silence to commemorate those who have died in the past year. At the Lion's Gate, balloons will be released carrying messages and prayers from people around the world. Walkers will hand out texts in Arabic, English en Hebrew to explain the march's aims and non-violent nature. The Christian community in the Holy Land have planned several other events over the Christmas period. On Sunday, 23 December a Christmas tree will be decorated at Orient House in Jerusalem. On Christmas Day, there will be a candle lit processions in Beit Sahour Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

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