Letter from the Holy Land to those who celebrate Christmas

Letter Two

" Palestine and Jerusalem From the Counsel of the Catholic Patriarchs of Orient General Secretary Delivered on October 18, 1996 The original is in Arabic, Translation in English by Rev. Labib Kobti

You have already sent, distributed or copied the first letter. Please continue to help our People to have the Just and Comprehensive peace. Christmas is an occasion in which we can speak about the plight of the citizens of the land of Jesus' birth, using authoritative letters and statements. We need now that this letters as the first one to be translated in French, Italian, German and Spanish. Please, send your translations as soon as possible, with an introduction that explains as I did *WHY THE LETTER*, to LabibKobti@aol.com

Due to the procrastination of the Peace Process in Jerusalem, the situation is still deteriorating. The anxiety of the Palestinian People is growing, since the cities have become mass prisons because of the restraining of freedom of movement and the lack of work. The Holy City is still prohibited for the Palestinians Jerusalemites. All this seems to prepare for a big reaction that could lead to violence.

We declare that violence is unacceptable from any source of power. We draw the attention of the authorities that the security measures imposed actually by the Israelis may lead to violence, and poses a continuous threat to the needed security.

We appeal to the local and international authorities to alleviate the suffering on daily living of the Palestinian people, to lift the restrictions imposed on the right to travel freely and to allow the right of entry to the Holy City. We also call upon the authorities to take an immediate action to implement as soon as possible the just and comprehensive and final peace with the Palestinian people as well as with Syria and Lebanon. Because time as well as the slowing of the peace process and hesitation is not serving peace but on the contrary is benefiting extremism and violence on both sides.

Jerusalem first and foremost. The question of Jerusalem must be examined and negotiated in order to find a reasonable solution in the light of its historical background and importance, as well as in the light of the United Nations resolutions, of the hopes and symbols that the Holy City to all its citizens, its neighboring people and the world. In this context we join our voices to all our brothers the Patriarchs and the Head of Christian Churches in Jerusalem in proclaiming that this city is holy for all three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim and that Jerusalem is the key for peace and war. We are forced to express our fears and worries concerning the present disturbing situation in the Holy City which is against the will of the United Nations resolutions and against the just search for peace. We claim that an exclusive sovereignty over the city is an invitation to war, when a call to equally sharing the same rights and duties over Jerusalem by its components, is a call to peace and security for the Holy City and the region as whole.

How could you celebrate Christmas, when the people who saw the First Christmas is deprived of his fundamental rights? How could you celebrate Christmas if you do not act immediately and work urgently for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land? Please, pray with us for peace. Please, contact your civil and religious representatives and urge them to take action. Thanks

For more information : LabibKobti@aol.com