The patriarchs and head of the Churches in Jerusalem have released a statement expressing their concern about the Israeli government’s unilateral plans, which include the annexation of territories in the West Bank. Such a move would prevent any peace agreement from being reached. Moreover, it would only prolong a “vicious cycle” of violence and injustice that continues to claim innocent victims.
The statement also denounces the United States and Russia’s actions. It calls for stronger action from the United Nations and the European Union. It criticizes the internal disputes between the Palestinians inside and outside the Palestine Liberation Organization.
According to Asia News, the number of attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinians in the West Bank, has increased. At the same time, Israeli authorities have presented a plan allowing for the construction of thousands of new houses for settlers in occupied areas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that the plan will begin July 1 with a declaration of sovereignty over the Jordan Valley settlements. This policy is taking advantage of the United States’ increasing support for annexation projects.
Message from Christian leaders:
As a result of the stagnation of the Peace Process in the Middle East between the Israelis and Palestinians, an array of plans for Israel to unilaterally annex West Bank land, backed mainly by right-wing factions, raises serious and catastrophic questions about the feasibility of any peaceful agreement to end the decades’ long conflict, one that continues to cost many innocent lives as part of a vicious cycle of human tragedy and injustice.
The Council of Patriarchs and Heads of the Holy Land Churches views such unilateral annexation plans with the utmost concern and calls upon the State of Israel to refrain from such unilateral moves, which would bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process.
The Council also calls upon the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the European Union, and the United Nations to respond to these unilateral annexation plans with a time-delimited and phased Peace Initiative in line with International Law and United Nations resolutions on the matter, in order to guarantee a comprehensive, just, and long-lasting peace in this part of the world that is considered Holy by the three Abrahamic Faiths.
We also call upon the Palestinian Liberation Organization, as the sole legitimate Representative of the Palestinian people, to resolve its internal disputes—as well as any conflicts with other factions that are not under its umbrella—in order to present a unified front dedicated to achieving peace and the building of a viable State that is founded upon pluralism and democratic values.
+Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator, Latin Patriarchate
+Fr. Francesco Patton, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
+Archbishop Anba Antonious, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
+Vicar General Father Gabriel Daho, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Aba Embakob, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Yaser AL-Ayash, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
+Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
+Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
+Bishop Ibrahim Sani Azar, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
+Father Ephram Samaan, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
+Rt Rev. Joseph Nersès Zabarian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate