The meaning of Shared Jerusalem for the Church
March 10, 2002

Dear Friends:
Some of our friends have expressed there wish to know why some churches including the Vatican and some communities call for a shared Jerusalem when others call for the only right of the Palestinians on Jerusalem. This need to be explained and we need to stand on what really some of the mentioned groups are asking for.

1) The Vatican as well many other Christian groups speak about the Old City of Jerusalem as an Occupied Territories: they say:..."the part of the city militarily occupied in 1967 and annexed and declared the capital of the state of Israel, is occupied territory, and all Israeli measures which exceed the power of a belligerent occupant under international law are therefore null and void." (http://www.al-bushra.org/vatican/vatsecst.htm). They call on the UN resolutions to be respected and the return of the occupied Territories to Palestinians. In fact on September 6, 2000 US Christian Leaders have written to President Clinton a letter that say: "With due regard for the groundbreaking Oslo peace process, we must emphasize that international law relevant to Jerusalem in United Nations resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention cannot be cast aside and is not negated by the Oslo Accords. Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem is illegal according to international law. Furthermore, the resolution of Jerusalem's future and status should not be a matter to be determined solely by the governing officials of Israel and the PLO under the auspices of the United States government. The significance of Jerusalem to the international community must receive higher consideration if a political agreement is to be broadly endorsed and enduring." THEN the Christian stand on Jerusalem is clear the respect of the UN Resolutions and International Law: THE RETURN OF THE OCCUPIED Territories to the Palestinians

2) The Vatican and some other Christian Churches call for an International Guarantee on the Holy Places in East Jerusalem and not for the Internationalization of Jerusalem. These guarantees will help Jews, Christians and Muslims to have access to there holy places freely and without restrictions. For Example: Do you know that at the Entrance of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aksa (the doors leading to the holy places) you do have Israeli soldiers. They can close the place anytime for our people, they do have authority on the entrances...we are calling on international Guarantees to stop things like that. The same case for the Holy Sepulcher of other Holy Places. Israel can stop people from going to Mosques, churches and is doing that against our people since the CLOSURE of Jerusalem on 1993 (Seven years now).

3) When we call on shared Jerusalem, we speak about both East and West Jerusalem. Israel for years now consider West Jerusalem is hers, when we say NO. JERUSALEM is the whole city: East and West. When we call for that we are saying to Israel that a lot of Arab lands in West Jerusalem belong to the Palestinians and they have rights on them and you cannot say that Jerusalem belong to Israel. So if you want us to share with you on East Jerusalem (already they have created a lot of Settlements around the Old City and claim soverity on them as part of Israel against of course the UN Resolutions), you need to recognize that we do have rights on West Jerusalem and all Jerusalem should be Capital of Israel and Palestine.

We do not accept that they share with us East Jerusalem and they tell us West Jerusalem is theirs.
AND we are not calling on that at all.
Then the stand of us, the Christians with many Jews and Muslims is good, it benefits all.

I hope that I explained to some of my friends what they have questioned on our stand on Shared Jerusalem. I know that there is a lot of details that we can discuss and speak about. I wanted just to say in some words what we believe in. Please share with me and let us discuss that on the lists.
1) Articles by Patriarch Sabbah: http://www.al-bushra.org/latpatra/patriarcharticle.htm
2) Articles by Priests: http://www.al-bushra.org/latpatra/priests.htm
3) Articles from the Vatican: http://www.al-bushra.org/vatican/0vatican.htm
4) Articles by US Catholics: http://www.al-bushra.org/temp/uscath.htm
5) Articles by Head of Churches in the Holy Land and all over the World including Churches for Middle East peace and Sabeel: http://www.al-bushra.org/hedchrch/0hdchrch.htm
6) Articles by me, Fr. Labib Kobti: http://www.al-bushra.org/LabibKobti/labib.htm

Fr. Labib Kobti Al-Bushra