October 5, 2000

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem shares the pain
and suffering of its own Palestinian People at these very tragic times.

It is clear that al-Haram al-Sharif (known to Jews as the Temple Mount) has
been the intended target of the Israeli onslaught.  In other words, if we
consider Jerusalem as the heart of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, then
the heart of the conflict over Jerusalem is al-Haram area.  From all
indications, Israel's intention is to continue to dominate and control it at
any cost.  Hence the Israeli provocation, the excessive military force, and
the brutality of their army's response in order to break the Palestinian
will and force them to bow to Israeli demands.

Therefore, Sabeel strongly emphasizes the following:

1. Al-Haram al-Sharif that includes the Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque,
and the surrounding sanctuary is an Arab Islamic Waqf, i.e. a Muslim
Religious Trust. It is Islam's holiest place in Palestine.  Al-Haram has
been the property of the Muslims and under their sole sovereignty for over
one thousand two hundred years.  It is important to note that the Muslims
did not replace any existing structure at the time of its building in the
seventh century.

2. The trigger for the current events was the premeditated violation of
al-Haram al-Sharif by Ariel Sharon, the head of the Israeli right wing Likud
party.  He came not in peace but in a provocative assertion of exclusive
Israeli power and sovereignty over all Jerusalem, including its Muslim and
Christian shrines.  As such, his visit at the head of a force of over a
thousand heavily armed soldiers was correctly seen as an act of provocation
and desecration. It sent shock waves throughout the Palestinian community in
Palestine and Israel and throughout the Middle East.  It has resulted in the
killings by the Israeli forces of over 65 Palestinians and the injury of
over a thousand.  We deplore these massacres and find them outrageous and

3. It was right for our Palestinian Muslim brothers and sisters to stand up
in the defense of their holiest place, al-Haram al-Sharif, when it was being
threatened and desecrated.  It was also right for the Palestinian people,
Muslim and Christian, to take a united stand against Israeli injustice and
in the defense of their holy places and homeland.

4. We extend our heartfelt condolences to all the bereaved families and pray
to God for the healing of all the wounded and injured.  May God grant
patience and grace to all those who are anguished and troubled.

5. The massive eruption of the Palestinian community including the
Palestinian Arab Israeli citizens is indicative that oppression,
discrimination, and the undermining of human rights, dignity, and decency
cannot be tolerated endlessly.  Peace can only be built on the principle
that Palestinian life is equal to Israeli life and Palestinian rights to
statehood, sovereignty, land, freedom and liberty are as sacred as Israeli
rights. When Israel takes cognizance of this fact, we will then know the
things that make for an enduring peace.

6. As we hold fast to our faith in God - the God who executes justice and
causes truth and right to triumph - we must not lose hope but continue to
work diligently for the restoration of our Palestinian legitimate rights so
that we can live in our independent state in liberty, democracy, and human

7. We appeal to the Israeli Government to put an end to all provocation and
massacres.  These actions will not yield peace.  On the contrary, they will
deepen the injustice, nourish the hatred and resentment, and lead to more
violence, brutality, and terrorism.  Furthermore, these actions will deprive
the children of our two peoples, Palestinians and Israelis, of the dreams
and hopes for a better and brighter future.

8. We appeal to the conscience of the United States' Administration to
enforce Israel's compliance with United Nations' resolutions.  We believe
that the peace process should not be merely a reflection of the balance of
power between the parties, but should reflect the genuine principles of
justice, morality and international law.

9. We appeal to the conscience of world leaders, including Arab leadership,
to make a more concerted effort in order to put an end to the Israeli
occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, so
that the peace we long for will be based on justice and the door will be
opened before our two nations, Palestinians and Israelis, for a promising
future of security, stability, and prosperity.

10. We appeal to our friends everywhere and to all people who believe that
peace based on justice is the only answer to the Palestinian/Israeli
conflict, to show their solidarity by:
a.   holding special prayer services, preferably ecumenical, for the end of
the present tragedy and for a just peace to be established.
b.   urging their governments to pressure Israel to end the massacre and to
insist that UN resolutions 242 and 338, which call for the end of the
Israeli occupation, are implemented.
c.   ensuring that the media portrays the truth of the current situation in
Palestine and Israel with honesty and objectivity, and without bias.

"... let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an
ever-flowing stream."  (Amos 5:24)
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God"
(Mathew 5:9)

The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek
Sabeel President
October 5, 2000