"Muslims and Christians Together for Jerusalem's Sake"

14-16 June 1996 - Beirut, Lebanon

THE JERUSALEM APPEAL

Driven by the suffering of Jerusalem, its people and blessed land, and in solidarity with Lebanon, rising up from its trials more strong and more firmly united, we - spiritual leaders of Arab world, both Muslim and Christian - met in Beirut from 14-16 June 1996. Grateful to the Middle East Council of Churches and the Arab Working Group on Christian-Muslim Dialogue for their invitation, we came together to speak with one voice to all the world near and far, and to all peoples and states. It is the voice of our people, Arab believers, Muslims and Christians, rising out of our common history, looking to our shared future.

THE CAUSE OF JERUSALEM IS PIVOTAL TO US. Before it we are not factions, NONE OF US CLAIMS IT EXCLUSIVELY FOR HIS FAITH. We all belong to Jerusalem, we stand near Jerusalem in affection. Our faith cannot find reassurance as long as Jerusalem is in captivity. The issue of Jerusalem should not be postponed nor delayed.

JERUSALEM IS ITS PEOPLE. ITS PEOPLE ARE PALESTINIANS who, ever since Jerusalem existed and for countless generations, have lived within it. They have never been severed from it and know no other place as their capital. Separated from its history they do not know themselves.

It is these people who today are suffering. Their livelihoods are at stake, they are expelled from their homes, humiliated, their land confiscated. Our solicitude for them invites us to voice a common position. Their cause is our cause. This position calls for a solution where Arab sovereignty, linking Jerusalem to Palestine, is restored. For Jerusalem is in the heart of Palestine and no political solution may sever Jerusalem from Palestine nor from its people, their heritage and identity. The holy places remain alive through the people of the Holy City who worship God and seek His blessing, through prayers andprostration and pilgrimage. Without the people, holy shrines would become museums rather than houses of invocation.

NO POWER IN THE WORLD HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDAIZE JERUSALEM, internationalize it, or deprive it of its Arab and Christian-Muslim character. No international, Arab, Christian or Muslim authority can dispose of Jerusalem's Christian-Muslim character. Any decision to this effect is void and illegitimate.

As we gather around Jerusalem and for it, we are deeply concerned by the impositions of Israel: stripping people of their land based on no right, systematically impeding constructions permits for the city's Palestinian inhabitants, persistently preventing their free access to the city, restraining the Palestinians from exercising their right to political expression, and continuing to modify its demographic configuration through the settlement of those who are not part of its original population, while expelling its native children. All of these actions violate moral principles and international covenants. They must cease immediately.

We are indignant by Israel's provocative actions which drive Jerusalemites, Christians and Muslims alike, to emigrate. Jerusalem is turned into a confiscated city while its vocation, in view of its sanctity, history and significance, is to be a place of encounter for all. Faced with this situation, we cannot but appeal to the whole world, as we bear trust for our people, their rights and their land:

There is a people, the Palestinian people, whose existence and future are at risk. Let them not be left alone in their tribulation. Jerusalem is a land of encounter for its people. Do not permit that it becomes an arena echoing with memories, or a museum of holy places bereft of soul and people.

PEACE IS THE FRUIT OF JUSTICE. PEACE CAN NOT REST, NOR WILL IT ENDURE, UPON INJUSTICE AND OPPRESSION. What we fear most is that the interests of states may coincide to impose a situation where the Palestinian people are deprived of establishing an independent state, with Jerusalem as its capital, and where a full withdrawal from Southern Lebanon and the Syrian Golan Heights is not secured.

On the basis of our commitment to the cause of Jerusalem, WE CALL UPON ALL CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS OF THE WORLD TO SUPPORT THE LEGITIMATE PALESTINIAN RIGHTS. We call upon all the churches and Islamic bodies and organizations to look with concern to the freedom of Jerusalem and not to spare any effort, in all respects, so that justice may prevail.

WE CALL UPON NATIONS OF THE WORLD, THE UNITED NATIONS and its agencies, and various Non-Governmental Organizations, to offer their assistance to Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem in order to develop their infrastructure, and to continue to provide the necessary services in the social fields, in health, education and housing.

WE CALL UPON ARAB GOVERNMENTS AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY to unify their positions concerning Jerusalem, a historical trust for the Arabs and all people of faith throughout the world, and to intensify their defense of the Arab character of Jerusalem and its religious pluralism raising it to the stature befitting this blessed city.

AS AN OCCUPYING FORCE, ISRAEL SHOULD STOP ALL ACTS WHICH CLOSE JERUSALEM IN THE FACE OF ITS PEOPLE, the Palestinians and all believers. Israel should desist from all actions that change the physical and human complexion of Jerusalem. Israel should fully recognize the rights of the Palestinian people. This is an intrinsic requirement for peace and justice.

Israeli violations of Arab human rights, and offenses against Muslim and Christian holy places, could not have occurred without the support of various international powers. These powers should refrain from aiding aggression and providing support that enables Israel to enforce its plans of settlement,Judaization, displacement and destruction.

We, as Christians and Muslims, do not recognize the legitimacy of any foreign diplomatic representation established in Jerusalem and consider any such establishment to be an act of hostility against Arabs, Christians and Muslims alike.

For our part, we will be the united voice of Jerusalem and will extend support to its people in every way possible to help consolidate their presence in their own land, restore their freedom and protect their holy places.

As Christians and Muslims, we shall join efforts so that Jerusalem may become a city of reconciliation, justice and peace for all.

JERUSALEM IS OUR ASCENT TO HEAVEN. IN SPIRIT WE WERE BORN OF IT. WE ARE BONDED TO IT WITH LOVE. WE ARE IN IT UNTIL GOD INHERITS THE EARTH AND ALL THEREIN.

Peace to Jerusalem. May peace rest upon Jerusalem. May Jerusalem's peace rest upon world.

Approved by:

From the Christian part: H.H. Pope Shnouda of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, H.B. Patriarch Parthenios of Alexandria Greek Orthodox Church, H.B. Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim Greek Orthodox Church of Syria and Lebanon, H.B. Patriarch Zakka Iwas of the Syrian Orthodox Church, H.B. Michael Sabbah Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, H.B. Patriarch Jean Kasparian of the Armenian Catholic Church in Lebanon, H.B. Patriarch Ignatius Haik of the Syrian Catholic Church in Lebanon, H.H. Catholicos Aram Keshishian of Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia, Patriarchal Vicar Roland Abou Jawdeh of the Maronite Church in Lebanon, Presiding Bishop Samir Kafity Anglican Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Rev. Dr. Salim Sahiouny President of the Evangelical Supreme Council in Syria and Lebanon, Bishop Hillarion kaputji Greek Catholic of Jerusalem, and many other representatives of all Churches in the Middle East

From the Muslim part: Imam Sheik Mohammad Mahdi Shams Aldin of the Shi'a community in Lebanon, Grand Mufti Mohammad Keftaro of Syria, Mufti Mohammad Rashid Kabai of Lebanon, Dr. Mustafa AlShaka' representing the Grand Imam of Al Azhar of Egypt, Sheikh Youssef Al-Karadawi from Gulf, Sheikh Hassan Tahboub minister of Awkaf in Palestine and Dr. hassan Selwadi representing the Grand Mufti Sabri of Jerusalem, as well as many other community leaders and Intellectuals.