04/12/2006, 00.00
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In the name of God do not boycott the Palestinians, say Jerusalem Church leaders

They make a strong appeal for reconciliation and are strongly critical of the international community.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The 13 patriarchs and heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem launched in their Easter message a powerful appeal for reconciliation between Israel and Palestine—they also called on the international community not to boycott the Palestinian people by stopping aid.

The Christian Churches in the Holy Land—Orthodox, Armenian, Latin Catholic, Copt, Syriac, Anglican and Lutheran—will celebrate Easter on April 16 or 23. Their leaders call on their faithful to see the proximity in dates as a sign of the need for greater solidarity and shared witness of the resurrection of Jesus in a "clear challenging love to all with whom we come in contact" at a time when violence and anguish experienced in the Holy Land, the land where Jesus lived, seem to be testing faith in His Resurrection.

"It seems nowadays that we face an unknown path or impasse in political life (sic) between the new Israeli government and the new Palestinian government." What is more, the Church leaders reproach the international community for withholding aid from the Palestinian people. In their view, "it is not permitted to boycott a people on whom oppressions and injustices were and are imposed, while the international community remained so far paralyzed in putting an end to these oppressions, and therefore this paralysis gave birth to violence, terrorism and the humiliation of the human person [sic]."

"Instead of boycotting, we appeal to the International Community to seize the opportunity of this phase in history of the conflict in order to try seriously to put an end to the suffering of our land and of all its inhabitants. We call upon it to transform our land in a land in which shines the glory of the human being liberated from all kind of oppression and fear, where the glory and the voice of God appeared to man [sic]."

In their appeal, Church leaders also addressed the leaders of Israel and Palestine. "If a sincere will exists, there will be capacity and power to overcome all obstacles, in order to reach security, peace and justice to all, [for] Palestinians and Israelis alike."

Addressing Israel's leaders directly, they ask them "to see that unilateral measures are another aspect of the conflict and the permanence of the sufferings for both peoples. Therefore, we urge them to take the right measures to liberate the human being, Israeli or Palestinian, and to see in the Palestinian Authority a help and a partner to construct a peace, of which the building is not something impossible [sic]."

They do not however speak directly to the new Palestinian government's attitude vis-à-vis Israel.

Finally, the Church leaders' last appeal is to Christians around the world, who share with their leaders "the responsibility of reconciliation in this Holy Land based on truth, justice, and equality among peoples and persons."

They ask: "Did you do all you can in order to bring back justice and human dignity to those human beings and believers living around the Holy Places, the place of the roots of your faith and the place of the Redemption of the world?" They urge their brothers and sisters in Christ to put pressure on their respective governments ("to help bring an end to the sufferings of the two peoples") and national media ("to bring life, love, and trust among the two peoples of this land"). Finally, they challenge their fellow Christians: "Ask [. . .] yourselves about the so called 'Security or Isolating Wall' and the numerous check points and the crushed dignity of the human being in the land of the Redemption and love?"

The appeal is signed by Greek-Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, Roman Catholic Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Torkom I Manooghian, Custos of the Holy Land Fr Pierbattista Pizziballa (ofm), Coptic Orthodox Archbishop Anba Abraham, Syrian-Orthodox Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Ethiopian Orthodox Archbishop Abouna Grima, Maronite Archbishop Paul Sayyah, Anglican Bishop Riah Abu el-Assal, Lutheran Bishop Mounib Younan, Syrian-Catholic Bishop Pierre Malki, Armenian Catholic Rev. Raphael Minassian, and Greek Catholic Archimandrite Mtanios Haddad. 

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