The same leaders met with Israeli President Moshe Katsav to discuss the future of Middle East peace, conditions of the Palestinian people and the status of the AVH tax case.
Katsav spoke of the importance and the trauma of the Gaza disengagement for his people, and said that because of this a “historic opportunity” is here that the Palestinians should now take hold of. He said that President Abbas must now get terrorism under control, which Katsav believes he can do. He also said that the suffering, injustice and harsh realities of the Palestinians were brought on by the Palestinians and their terror. Bishop Younan said that the security of Israelis and the freedom and justice of the Palestinians were dependent on the other. Younan told Katsav that local religious leaders have started a “Council for Religious Leadership in the Holy Land” to promote greater religious understanding.
They urged the President to intervene on behalf of the AVH tax case in which the Israeli government is attempting to revoke a decades-long tax exemption that has allowed the hospital to function. Israel says that all other hospitals pay taxes and AVH should be no exception. LWF Area Representative the Rev. Mark Brown pointed out that other Israeli hospitals are entitled to benefits and resources that AVH would not be able to enjoy. He also cited the poor economic conditions the patient base lives in:
“The hospital is unique. We’re serving people who are not part of the national health insurance who have little or no capacity to pay,” Brown said of the AVH’s services that include cancer treatment and kidney dialysis.