Press Release from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate concerning the Housing project of Beit Sahour

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem follows with great interest and concern the events related to the Greek Orthodox Housing Project in the Municipality of Beit Sahour following the decision of the Israeli authorities for the demolition of 100 residences erected within the framework of this project in land owned by the Patriarchate.

The Patriarchate, while remaining loyal to its 2000-year old tradition not to involve in political disputes, is pursing with dedication its two main endeavors, that is the preservation and maintenance of the Holy shrines in the Holy Land and the ministry of its congregationís needs, so as to ensure the protection and continuation of the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

Bearing in mind the need of the Greek Orthodox community in Beit Sahour for low-cost housed for the young generation, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate, in 1995, offered its congregation, with a long-term lease agreement, 20 donums, located within the municipal borders of the Beit Sahour Municipality.

 By the time of order of the demolition, the construction of the residences was almost completed due to sacrifices of the population to gather the necessary funds, despite the serious economic difficulties that the region has been facing during the past turbulent years. The surprise, frustration, pain and agony of these people, who are the spiritual children of the Patriarchate, is understandable and shared by all the Greek Orthodox communities. The Patriarchate will spare no efforts and legal means to support all protect its spiritual children and their livelihoods in Beit Sahour at this moment of trial.

We appeal to all people of good faith, irrespective of race or religion, to support the efforts of the Patriarchate to protect and preserve the living testimony of the Christian presence in the birthplace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We also appeal to cometent Israeli authorities to reconsider their decision for the demolition of the houses and not to inflict unnecessary and inhuman pain and despair on the families concerned.

Finally, we raise our prayers to the Lord that reconciliation and mercy, peace and justice will finally prevail in His Holy Land, for the sake of all its inhabitants, the present and the future generation.
 

Jerusalem,

Tuesday, October 15, 2002.