Where is the Truth

"Jerusalem: a Holy city and palce for loving"

Latin Patriach Michel sabbah, the Roman Patriach of Jerusalem

ADC 14th National

Part Two

"Jerusalem, through the centuries, was always governed by one political power corresponding to or supported by one religion. Therefore it had remained for centuries a source of war. Exclusivism nourishes wars and hostility, now and in the future, just as in the past. Exclusivism from any side, whether political or religious, will harm the identity of the City and threaten the harmony among all concerned, all its sons and daughters.

The political future of Jerusalem depends on its two dimensions, religious and political. With three religions and two peoples, Jerusalem should be shared by all of them.

To arrive at a position of stable peace, all of its children, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, should enjoy the same freedom, the same dignity, the same duties and rights. No one should feel like a guest or a stranger in one's own city. No one should be put in the situation of asking for protection from any one else. For all of us children of Jerusalem, despite our national and religious differences, our future is to be one family of the Holy Land. Much purification and many rectifications will have to be done in order to reach this state.

Despite its political and military unification, Jerusalem today is divided. The two peoples are deeply separated by the conflict, obvious in the faces and hearts of both peoples, Israelis and Palestinians. Therefore the question to be asked is: How can we reunify Jerusalem today? As a geographic location, as shrines, holy places and stones, Jerusalem is important, but the people living in it, Palestinians and Israelis, are just as important. Its geographical unity is important, but the human unity of its two peoples is just as important. Today, this human unity does not exist. Therefore the question is: How can we realize this human unity? Every political formulation, if it is to last and take effect for a long time, must take the living people into consideration. How can we reunify Jerusalem? By recognition of the rights of both peoples in it and through shared government of the city. The Israeli part will be Israeli; the Palestinian part will be Palestinian. The two sections can be geographically and politically separated if the hearts of the two peoples and the believers of the three religions are unified. The two parts can also be politically united through a formula of shared administration: one city, two flags and two capitals, as is already said by some. Mutual recognition and sharing, these are two main elements on the way to returning unity to Jerusalem, and so to achieve peace and reconciliation among its two peoples and three religions.

Jerusalem is first of all the spiritual capital for the two peoples and for the three religions. Therefore the city should remain always, in any and all circumstances of war or peace, accessible to all. Jerusalem should be above all hostilities and wars. The experience of history shows that it is impossible for any government to isolate any of its towns from general security measures, and therefore, in times of war, borders are closed to all enemies and opened only to friends. This has happened and even today happens in the Holy City; Jerusalem was in the past and is today opened to all friends from the whole world, but closed, for security reasons, to its own children and those nearest to it in the Palestinian towns and villages.

Therefore, given its pluralistic character and its religious importance, Jerusalem requires a special status. The Memorandum of the Patriarchs says: "In order to satisfy the national aspirations of all its inhabitants and in order that Jews, Christians, and Muslims can be at home in Jerusalem and in peace with each other, representatives from the three monotheistic religions, in addition to local political powers, ought to be associated in the elaboration and application of such a special statute "(Memo 14.1).

The guiding principle in this elaboration is to give Jerusalem a definitive stability, so that it will never again become a source of war between peoples and religions.

The Memorandum says: "Because of the universal significance of Jerusalem. the international community ought to be engaged in the stability and permanence of this statute. Jerusalem is too precious to be dependent solely on municipal or national political authorities, whoever they may be. Experience shows that an international guarantee is necessary" (Mem 14.2).

When Israelis and Palestinians agree on this vision, when believers of the three religions agree on this vision, they will have taken a historic and decisive step, introducing the region and the world to a new historic phase.

The position of the Holy See is similar to what I have presented above. The same document, Jerusalem Considerations, says on this point:

"With a view to safeguarding the universal character of a City already claimed by two peoples (Arab and Jewish) and held sacred by three religions, the Holy See supported the proposal for internationalisation of the territory, the 'corpus separatum' called for by the U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 ('I) of 29 November 1947 The Holy See at the time considered the 'corpus separatum' as an adequate means, a useful juridical instrument, for preventing Jerusalem from becoming a cause and arena of conflict with the resulting loss of an important aspect of its identity (as in fact subsequently happened and continues to happen).

"In the years that followed, although the objective of internationalisation was shown unattainable, the Holy See continued to call for the protection of the Holy

City identity. It consistently drew the attention to the need for an international commitment in this regard. called for 'an internationally guaranteed special statute.' To this end, the Holy See has consistently called for an international juridical instrument: which is what is meant by the phrase 'an internationally guaranteed special statute' lb. 1.1 a-b).

The question of Jerusalem is a political and a religious question. Neither aspect can be separated. Believers who live in Jerusalem are also citizens. Holy places and a place to live a daily life are two inseparable aspects of Jerusalem. Therefore the question of Jerusalem is also the question of the poor and the oppressed in Jerusalem, who have waited and still wait for peace and security.

The current changes undertaken in Jerusalem by the Israeli authorities: the Abu Gheneim/ Har Homa settlement and the withdrawal of the Identity Cards of the Palestinians of Jerusalem, have paralyzed the peace process and discouraged hopes for reconciliation. It is now high time that the question of Jerusalem be put as the top priority to be discussed first. Once the question of Jerusalem is settled, the peace process will go smoothly.

So Holy Scripture will help us understand the true nature of Jerusalem and with this true understanding, we will be able to find the appropriate solution for our common Jerusalem, City of God, and all his children whom he wanted to live in it: two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, and three religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

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