Justice and Peace for Jerusamem
The international Conference in Jerusalem Sponsored by
Sabeel, Liberation Theology Center, 22-27 January 1996
Over 300 Christian-Palestinians and international participants from more than 25 countries gathered in Jerusalem under the auspices of Sabeel Liberation Theology Centre to attend a conference which was held in consultation with Middle East Council of Churches and other ecumenical Christian organization on 22-27 January 1996 (cf.Al-Bushra5/page15).
SABEEL, whose founder is Canon Naim Ateek, Pastor of St. George's Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem, with the Christian leaders of Jerusalem, who on November 14th 1994 signed a memorandum on "The significance of Jerusalem for Christians" (Cf. Al-Bushra3/page9-11) that the Religious leaders of USA used so as to write a letter to President Clinton on "The Future of Jerusalem" urging him to work for peace and justice for Jerusalem (cf.al-Bushra4/Page 4-8), urged the International community to work for justice as the "Jerusalem Issue" will be discussed this year between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Sabeel International Conference on " The significance of Jerusalem for Christians and of Christians for Jerusalem" confirmed the following:
1-We, Palestinian Christians, stress the unity with Palestinian Muslims in striving for peace and the establishement of a sovereign state in our homeland, with Jerusalem as capital.
2-We reaffirm the international consensus that Jerusalem must remain undivided and serve as the capital for two sovereign and independent states, Israel and Palestine.
3-The government of Israel should remove forthwith all roadblocks and obstacles preventing free access to Jerusalem for Palestinians.
4-There should be an immediate cessation of all land expropriation in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip, and of the building and and expansion of Jewish settlements there, notably the Jebel Ghneim (Har Homa) Settlement between Jerusalem and the Christian village of Beit Sahour.
5-The government of Israel should permit the building of housing for Palestinians, and the development of Palestinian institutions that have been restricted since 1967. The international Conference noted that while the wall separating East and West Jerusalem was removed in 1967, the city has never been as divided as it is today.
6- There should be an immediate release of all political prisoners. Currently the Israelis are holding 4.000 Palestinians. Among them women, sick and elderly people.
7-The government of Israel should ensure equal rights and opportunities for all Palestinians living in the state of Israel.
8-Palestinian Christians affirm their essential attachment to the Holy City of Jerusalem, and acknowledge its significance for Muslims, Christians and Jews.
9-Palestinian Christians repudiate ideology and activities of groups like Jerusalem's "Christian Embassy", which it identified as a "Christian-Zionist fundamentalist group".
10-The Christian community throughout the world reaffirm its attachment to the Church of Jerusalem, the Mother Church of all Christians. In this light, we pledge to do all we can to maintain a continued and vital Christian presence in the Holy Land.
During the opening session's keynote address, Patriarch Sabbah, Roman Catholic Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem pressed the International community to "Open Jerusalem", "Israel, he said, has now closed off Jerusalem. No local government should be permitted to do this...in any final solution for Jerusalem, there must be international guarantees for peaceful co-existence in Jerusalem".Rev. Samir Kafity, president bishop of the Anglican Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East added "30 percent of the world is Muslim and 30 percent of the world is Christian. With Israel closure of Jerusalem, 60 percent of the world's people need the permission of the Israelis to come and pray in Jerusalem". Lynda Brayer, a native of South Africa and a jewish convert to Christianity said: "We are now witness to the materialization of the apartheid ideology and its division of Palestine into Jewish' areas, and Arab, or non-Jewish areas, the model for which is the bantustans in South Africa. This bantustanization is precisely what is happening to East Jerusalem (Arab Areas), the occupied West Bank and Gaza."