ACJ Welcomes U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Statement on behalf of the
Palestinians

WASHINGTON, DC 14 ­ The American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ) today
welcomed Cardinal Bernard F. Law’s proposal that the U.S.’s Roman
Catholic bishops collectively endorse Palestinian statehood. Law,
chairman of international policy committee which drew up the proposed
document titled, “Returning to the Path of Peace in the Middle East,”
emphasized that "just peace" in the Middle East must include the
establishment of a Palestinian state. He continued, "Clearly, there will
be no genuine peace for Israel without justice for the Palestinian
people, nor will there be genuine justice for the Palestinian people
without peace for Israel."

According to news reports, the declaration also calls for Israel to
withdraw from all occupied territories and for the United States to
reject any unilateral actions which could undermine negotiations between
the parties. Law also called for unspecified steps to shore up the
population of Christians in Israel and the Palestinian territories,
which he said was dwindling. The statement stressed that "Muslims, Jews
and Christians, Palestinians and Israelis cannot separate themselves
into walled enclaves, they must find ways to live together."

The Bishops’ statement reinforces the position of Christians in
Palestine and responds to their plight as articulated yesterday by the
Senior Palestinian Christian clergymen at the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in Qatar. Speaking at a news conference
after the Summit, Roman Catholic Bishop for Palestine Lutfi Laham
commented: “We have come to assert our national unity as an inseparable
part of this nation and this land in which we have shared with Muslims
for more than a 1,000 years.” Theodosios Hanna of the Greek Orthodox
Patriarchate of Jerusalem added that “Peace in the Middle East could
only be achieved when a Palestinian state is formed with Jerusalem as
its capital…We do not accept an international status for Jerusalem as
this would mean giving up our Arab right to the city. Occupied East
Jerusalem is a Palestinian Arab city and is the capital of a Palestinian
sovereign state.”

ACJ calls on the leadership of the Christian communities around the
world to rally behind the Palestinians in their quest for statehood. The
status quo of occupation is intolerable, illegal, and untenable.
Palestinian Christians and Muslims in East Jerusalem cannot be asked to
suspend their rights to accommodate Israeli occupation. The
foot-dragging of Israel in not recognizing East Jerusalem as occupied
territory constitutes a reckless ongoing provocation. The recent round
of violence which has resulted in the death of over 217 and injury of
over 7000 Palestinians shows without a shadow of a doubt that it is high
time for the occupation to end.
 

American Committee on Jerusalem * 4201 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 302
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 237-0215 * Fax: (202) 244-3196 * e-mail: acj@acj.org

The ACJ is a coalition of various organizations and individuals
dedicated to promoting a solution to Jerusalem which addresses the deep
attachments of adherents to the three monotheistic religions to the city
and the political aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis.