JERUSALEM!

What is the TRUTH?

Patriarch Sabbah, spoke at the ADC 14th Convention on June 14, 1997

Part one

"JERUSALEM: A HOLY CITY AND A PLACE FOR LIVING"

Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem

" I knew of course, these days, about the recent step taken by the Congress of the US concerning Jerusalem. The least we can say about it: it is unfortunate, because it does not lead to peace. It is not the true way to peace. The true way to peace in Jerusalem and in the region is the recognition of all its peoples' rights and dignity. Ignoring one will not help the other. It is acting against both because abscence of peace due to extremism will affect both, depriving them together (the Israelis and the Palestinians) of the wanted peace.

"For almost two thousand years, through so many hardships and the succession of so many powers, the local Church with its faithful has always been actively present in Jerusalem. Across the centuries, the local Church has been witnessing to the life and preaching the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ upon the same Holy Places, and its faithful have been receiving other brothers and sisters in the faith as pilgrims, whether as residents or in transit, inviting them to be re-immersed into the refreshing ever-living ecclesiastical sources. That continuing presence of a living Christian community is inseparable from the historical sites. Through the living stones, the holy archeological sites take on life.

In civil terms as well, Christians recognize that all believers, Muslims and Jews, have the same rights and responsibilities, and share with them in claiming these rights in any status which the city will have, following on the decision of all its children.

The whole Church, born in Jerusalem and thence scattered throughout the world, remained present in it through the local Church, today made up of various local Churches: Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant. All together, we are the Mother Church, and all together we are a small Church. As was Jesus, so we today are still small and a sign of contradiction.

Two peoples, three religions belong to Jerusalem. The two peoples are the Palestinians and the Israelis. Palestinians are Muslims and Christians. Local Christians are Palestinians. They are an integral part of the Palestinian society and belong to their own people, to its history and culture, just as all faithful - Christians, Muslims, or Jews - everywhere in the world belong to their own people, history and

culture. The three religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Judaism, on the local and international level, is a part of Israeli society in Jerusalem. The two others, Christianity and Islam, are part of the same Palestinian society in Jerusalem. Absolutely speaking, the three religions must relate equally to the city in all that concerns the political, civil and religious rights and responsibilities of their

believers. "In the name of religion, each of the three religions has an equal right to be present in the land and to have access to it in order to be able to practice its faith. But the political rights of one or another of the three religions, or of any of the faithful" (LP 4, p 54), derive from international law, based on historic and legitimate rights. Today, they still depend on the force of military occupation.

A document published in June 1996 by the Holy See, the Vatican (Jerusalem -Considerations of the Secretariat of State), states: "The attitude of the Holy See with regard to the territorial situation of Jerusalem is necessarily the same as that of the international community. The latter could be summarized as follows: the pan of the City militarily occupied in 1967 and subsequently annexed and declared 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. In particular, this same position was expressed and is still expressed by resolution 478 of the United Nations Security Council adopted on 20 August 1980, which declared the Israeli "basic law" concerning Jerusalem to be "null and void" and which invited countries with Embassies in Jerusalem to move them elsewhere." (I,1).

The TRUTH is then that Jerusalem is not Disputed Territory but Occupied Territory. Stand then with the Truth.

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