Press Release
October 25, 2000

  Hundreds of Christian Arab families are  still here and will
                       remain forever here

"Great Jubilee Year 2000" <HLANDJUB@palnet.com>  Oct 25 2000

We were surprised this morning to read a false  news-article  at
the "Jerusalem Post" which claimed  that  the  "Foreign  Ministry
Helps hundreds of Christian families flee PA areas" with the help
of foreign  embassies  such  as  those  of  England,  Canada  and
Cyprus". Please note that the title is different in the  Internet
edition of the Jerusalem Post, and says  "Hundreds  of  Christian
Arab families fleeing PA areas".

After checking with various  concerned  parties,  especially  the
mentioned embassies and among our Christian communities,  we  are
confident that the mentioned report included a lot of  fabricated
information. Some foreign diplomats told us that there  are  only
"registration"  of  foreign   residents   at   their   respective
consulates and embassies; some of these are  Arab  Christian  and
Moslem families  who  have  foreign  citizenship,  few  of  these
families left the country. But, no one reported to us any foreign
intervention to "help" Christian families to flee the Palestinian
Authorities. The immediate reaction  of  some of them  was  "I am
surprised to hear that... I don't believe it is true...and we are
only concerned on our own citizens".

We wonder also how the Israeli Foreign Ministry  is  helping  our
families to flee the PA areas while they clamp strict closure  on
the  territories  where  our  people  is  under  military  siege,
refusing to grant, even the workers,  the  necessary  permits  to
enter Israel and Jerusalem looking for their daily bread.

With regard to the recent attacks by some radical individuals  in
Gaza on some Christian properties there, we would like  to  thank
the Palestinian Authority, especially  President  Yasser  Arafat,
for the immediate solution offered to this problem, by  arresting
the doers and giving immediate order to fix all damages.

We would like to highlight, once more, that  the  Arab  Christian
Community in the Palestinian Territories is an integral  part  of
the Palestinian people. It suffers with it, rejoices with it, and
shares with it the same hopes  and  aspirations.  Therefore,  the
recent Israeli rumours  about  getting  the  town  of  Beit  Jala
involved in the recent clashes is not a coincidence, but  aim  to
"divide and rule" among the one Palestinian people.

We are calling upon all leaders to resume the peace negotiations,
as soon as possible, hoping to reach  a  just  and  comprehensive
agreement between the Palestinians and  the  Israelis  that  will
guarantee the freedom, security and stability in our  region,  so
that our both peoples will "live in the beauty of peace"

Fr. Raed Abusahlia
Chancellor
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Our phone # is 6282323  our fax is  6271652
E- mail:  latinpat@actcom.co.il

More:

From: bbarlow@umich.edu (Elizabeth Barlow)
Reply-to: bbarlow@umich.edu (Elizabeth Barlow)
To: fos-na@umich.edu (Friends of Sabeel--North America)
 

Dear Fos-na Friends:

I spoke to Naim Ateek about this story, which appeared Wednesday in the
Jerusalem Post.  He and friends checked around in Bethlehem, Beit Sahour,
Beit Jala and other areas to see if there was any truth whatsoever to the
story.  They could not find even a shred, and do believe it was fabricated
to create misunderstanding between the Christian and the Muslim
communities, and to mislead foreigners, particularly Americans, who seem to
be amazingly gullible.

Naim says that Palestinians, with all the troubles they are facing, are not
set up to counter the falsehoods that are planted with journalists.  He is
hoping that more resources can be found to counter misleading stories and
to present the Palestinians as they are, with the serious problems they face.