French President, François Hollande, met with Christian leaders in Jerusalem on Monday, November 18th, at St. Ann’s Church in the Old City of Jerusalem to discuss the Christian presence in the Holy Land and the issues surrounding Jerusalem.
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos, Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal, and Archbishop Youssef Jules El Zereyi of the Greek Catholic Patriarchate, and ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan in speaking with President Hollande about Jerusalem as a shared capital for two states and three religions.
President Hollande told the gathered leaders that France has historically been a protector of Catholicism in the Holy Land and will continue to help Catholics and all Christians who live here. Patriarch Twal asked President Hollande if France could request that funds be earmarked for Christian health and education out of the money that France currently provides to the Palestinian Authority.
Patriarch Theophilos conveyed to the President that the time is now for people and governments around the world to support a Christian presence in Jerusalem so that the legacy and care of Christian holy places could continue, uninterrupted for over 2,000 years.
Bishop Younan addressed the audience about the importance that President Hollande met with Christian leaders in St. Ann’s Church in Jerusalem. Bishop Younan emphasized the necessity of speaking out for a shared Jerusalem, the importance of interfaith dialogue, including the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL), and interfaith dialogue’s role in building up trust between the three religions and their work in peace education.
CRIHL’s recent study of textbooks in Israel and Palestine found that many textbooks in Israeli and Palestinian schools do not support co-existence of peoples or a shared Jerusalem. Bishop Younan and the other religious leaders hoped to convey to President Hollande, those gathered, and to leaders around the world that there will be no peace without justice in Jerusalem, a city that is open to all people, that will be without walls and without an army.
To read the textbook study completed by CRIHL, visit their website here.
The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF), an international, inter-church advocacy initiative for peace in Israel and Palestine, is sponsoring the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel from September 22nd to September 28th, 2013 for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. Congregations and individuals around the globe who share the hope of justice shall unite during the week to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness.
The theme of the week in 2013 is: “Jerusalem, the city of justice and peace.”
“If the recent rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air strikes on Gaza tell us anything, it is that the status quo in the Middle East is not a safe choice for Israelis or Palestinians.
In the current political climate, it is highly unlikely that bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinians can restart. Action is needed that will alter the current dynamic. As Elders, we believe that the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations is such a moment.
The council adopted a public statement about the situation in the Holy Land, urging an end to occupation, land confiscation and restrictions on ordinary Palestinians. From the statement:
“Our visit here has opened the eyes of many of us to the daily sufferings of the Palestinian people, often not shown to us by the media and in which context our member church speaks boldly a message of hope and reconciliation.”
We reiterate our call for an end to the occupation, bearing in mind a number of its manifestations which contribute to the daily struggles faced here. We view the disengagement from Gaza as but a first positive step in following the Road Map and ending the occupation, establishing a two-state solution with a shared Jerusalem.”
“We found that freedom of movement has been significantly compromised or prohibited, for example, leaving married persons separated from their families because they lack the same required residence permit as their partner or children. This lack of family reunification is but one of a series of pressures upon Palestinians. Houses are being demolished by the Israeli authorities and other facts on the ground, such as the enlargement of Israeli settlements, are being created, forcing Palestinians off their land. The prevention of home and land confiscation and the creation of additional housing is essential in the Jerusalem and other areas to help maintain their human right to housing as well as the demographic status quo. The churches are assisting with such projects but need additional funding.”
Sources in Hebron said that General William Fraser was about to enter the city of Hebron when a group of Israeli radical settlers rammed their car into the envoy of vehicles hitting the security escort car. The sources added that a small clash took place between the bodyguards of General Fraser and the radical settlers, then the American official turned back to Jerusalem. General William Fraser is the US President Bush administration envoy who was dispatched to the region for monitor the implementation of the road map peace plan.
WASHINGTON, D.C., 05 March 2012 (From the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East)– In the context of momentous developments in the Middle East, leaders of major Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious organizations “affirm with urgency that Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace is more vital than ever.” Leaders remain guided by “Principles of Cooperation” that acknowledge their bonds with those on different sides of the conflict and reemphasize their common agenda for peace.
Appreciating that “the months ahead, leading up to U.S. national elections, present a special challenge,” they urged “candidates not to use any rhetoric that could make prospects for peace more problematic. “As Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, we strongly caution candidates to do no harm to chances for a two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.”
More specifically, the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East calls on the Administration, the Congress and candidates for office to support the following steps:
Address warnings to both sides to prevent violence, and undertake diplomatic efforts, in coordination with the Quartet, to help maintain a durable, effective ceasefire; all attacks on civilians must immediately end;
Continue to support Palestinian state-building and economic development capacity, including immediately lifting the Congressional hold on humanitarian aid;
Support Palestinian efforts to form a government capable of representing the West Bank and Gaza on the essential conditions that it agree to halt violence, respect all existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and negotiate a two-state peace agreement with Israel;
Urge Israel to halt all settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem; and
Urge a resumption of negotiations for a two-state peace agreement, based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, and drawing on elements from the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), the unofficial Israeli Peace Initiative (2011), and the Geneva Accord (2003) which might lead to an agreement acceptable to both sides.
The national religious leaders pledged to urge members of their communities across the country: “to work actively in the coming months to preserve and further prepare the ground for Middle East peace, and to support positive efforts by political leaders in both parties to help move towards this goal.”
JERUSALEM, 27 February 2012 – Bishop Younan is in the US this week as a member of a delegation from the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL) meeting with interfaith and governmental representatives. The visit is centered in and around Washington, D.C.
On the schedule for tomorrow is an event hosted by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) entitled “Preventing Incitement and Promoting Peace: Obstacles and Opportunities for Religious Peacemaking in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”. For more information, see the announcement from USIP below:
Some are calling it the second political earthquake to hit the Holy Land in a year. In early results, it looks as if more than 70% of Palestinians have chosen Hamas in the first general election in 10 years. Prime Minister Qurei and the cabinet have resigned to make way for the new government. It was a festive mood Wednesday as throngs surrounded the Post Office on Salahadin street, one of the six post offices used for the East Jerusalemites to vote. “It’s a party! It’s the first time we’ve gotten to vote in 10 years!” said one older man. The overriding theme was a vote for change. It looks like they got their wish, but only time will tell exactly what that change will look like.
Looking toward the upcoming Palestinian UN Statehood Bid, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem released a statement last week. We invite you to read the statement below:
Communiqué from the Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem
Looking ahead to the upcoming General Assembly of the United Nations in this September 2011 and the bid for Palestinian statehood, the Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem feel the need to intensify the prayers and diplomatic efforts for peace between Palestinians and Israelis, see this as the most appropriate time for such an opportunity, and thus wish to reiterate the following principles upon which we agree:
A two-state solution serves the cause of peace and justice.
Israelis and Palestinians must live each in their own independent states with peace, security and justice, respecting human rights, according to international law.
Negotiations are the best way to resolve all outstanding problems between the two sides.
Palestinians and Israelis should exercise restraint, whatever the outcome of the vote at the United Nations.
Jerusalem is a Holy City to the followers of all three Abrahamic faiths, in which all people should be able to live in peace and tranquility, a city to be shared by the two peoples and the three faiths.
Thus, we call upon decision makers and people of good will, to do their utmost to achieve the long awaited justice, peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians so that the prophecy of Prophet David is lived again:
“Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”(Ps. 85: 10)