MIDDLE EAST: Jerusalem church leaders call for support
to end embargo
March 30, 2007 [Episcopal News Service] Leaders of churches in Jerusalem
in an Easter message have urged Christians around the world to work to end
an international financial boycott of the Palestinian government imposed
after the Islamist Hamas movement came to power in 2006.
"Many vital areas of community are in a desperate plight as a result of the
withholding of this aid -- not least justice, economy, medical and educational,"
the 13 patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem, including Anglican
Bishop Riah Hanna Abu El-Assal, said in a statement released on March 30.
Much of the international community cut financial aid to the Palestinian
Authority when Hamas took over the Palestinian government, refusing to rescind
its commitment to violently destroy Israel.
In February, however, Hamas and the Fatah group of the president of the Palestinian
authority, Mahmoud Abbas signed a power-sharing agreement. It aimed at getting
the blockade lifted, at least partly, by agreeing to respect past accords
that recognize Israel.
On March 28, leaders of Arab nations in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh
said they could recognize Israel if it withdrew from territory it captured
"Pray for the newly formed unity government of the Palestinians together
with the Israeli government and the Arab initiative, to work for taking away
fear and hence all oppression, the walls, the barriers and the prisons,"
stated the Christian leaders, from the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental
Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican communities.
"Then we would ask that you make a particular effort to encourage your particular
nation to stop the embargo imposed upon us and to restore aid to the Palestinians,"
they said in their message for Easter.
They pledged to work to "to build a better tomorrow for all of us, Palestinians
or Israelis, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Druzes."