Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem blames Prime Minister Netanyaho

January 1998

Al-Bushra (

Patriarch Sabbah, Latin Patriarch (Roman Catholic Archbishop and Patriarch) of Jerusalem blames the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyaho for preventing an appropriate peace in the Holy Land

Responding to an invitation by Jerusalem Mayor Olmert to the Pope to visit Jerusalem, "Patriarch Sabbah told Olmert that he blames Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "hard-line" policies for preventing an appropriate peace agreement. "We need to find peace here in Jerusalem, and as a policy maker we know you have the ability to help us in that endeavor," he said. (from Catholic World News Service, Daily News Briefs,JAN. 09, 1998).

How we have to read the comments of Patriarch Sabbah to Jerusalem Mayor Olmert? We have to read them in this context:

1- The Latin Patriarchate, Justice and Peace Commission, on October 10th 1996 had sent a letter worldwide about injustices committed by the Israelis in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. They named the message "The Palestinian Population in Danger". The Palestinians are living more and more in danger than ever today in 1998 with the "hard-line policy of Mr. Netanyaho and his administration", this policy had given no hopes, it created frustrations and despair and violence.(Find below/ document one). How would or could the Pope accept such invitation when the minimum of justice for Palestinains is not honored?

2- The stand of the Patriarch Sabbah reflects also the frustration of the Vatican and the Popes who spoke about very grave state(find below/document two) of affairs that was created against legality by the Israelis since the Occupation of the West Bank and their fear of the Judaization of Jerusalem(Find below /document three). How could the Pope accept an invitation when the Israelis are trying to change everything in Jerusalem and the Holy Land and refusing to return to Palestinians their houses, lands and Id's or respect Palestinian Fundamental Human rights?

3- The Position of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem goes with the stands of the International Community and the *WHOLE WORLD* who know that Netanyaho has no right to confiscate Palestinian lands, build settlements for the Jews, demolish Jerusalimites houses, preventing Arab Christians and Muslims of their fundamental rights to go to Jerusalem, the center and Capital of their spiritual, educational, economical...home country Palestine.

4- The Patriarchal answer to Mr. Olmert goes with the stand of the whole world who insists that what is happening now in Jerusalem is realy unjust and do not serve *COPREHENSIVE JUSTICE, PEACE AND TRUTH* between the five components of the Holy Land society: Palestinians and Israleis, Jews, Christians and Muslims.

5- The answer of Patriarch Sabbah should be read in those contests: It is a appeal to all those who believe in *TRUTH*, Justice and peace so as to work hard to defend fundamental human rights and prevent violence. The only hope for the Security of Israel is the Security of the Palestinians. The Pope will never accept the oppression of one people against another. The Pope will visit the Holy Land, when the Israelis will accept that the Palestinians have the same rights, responsabilities and duties like any other Jew in Israel, and when the Palestinans will have their own State, independent and Sovereign. In some words: Mr. Olmert do not bother invite the Pope when Israel is unable to respect the fundamental rights of the Palestinians.

A- Document one "The Palestinian Population in Danger"

This letter was sent on October 10th, 1996 to the Catholic Bishops World Wide sent by fax from the Commission for Justice and Peace, in Jerusalem. Since then the situation is much worse than ever; United Nation Non-Profit organizarions and Human Rights Organizations world wide as well the Palestinian Human Rights activists ( Jewish, Muslims and Christians), assert that Israel is acceerating the confiscation of identity cards from Palestinian residents of Jerusalem (Muslims and Christians alike) stripping them of the right to live in their own homeland.


Following the recent tragic events in the Holy Land, the situation for Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza continues to deteriorate. Amid largely false reports to the world media that the closure of the territories and Gaza has been eased, the Israeli government has strictly enforced a policy that the West Bank and Gaza is a closed military zone. This means that Palestinians are being denied the freedom to travel.

Jerusalemites are not being allowed enter the West Bank to conduct business, to visit religious sites, go to hospitals or clinics; or attend schools or universities. Likewise, West Bank and Gaza Palestinians are not allowed to enter Jerusalem fro religious, educational, general medical or commercial reasons. Moreover, travel between West Banks towns is severely restricted or prohibited. Institutions in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, including schools and hospitals, are being strangled. The Palestinian economy continues to worsen, with already high unemployment rising further. The anxiety, distress and discouragement of the Palestinians population is growing daily. The closure of the West Bank and Gaza must be lifted immediately.


Please in form your congregations and commissions of serious threat to the institutions of the Holy Land, and to the very survival of the Palestinian population. Please contact your own government officials about the situation. Please contact the representatives of the Israeli government in your area to protest the worsening situation and the punitive closure.


1- The right to travel freely within the West Bank, and to and from Jerusalem must be restored. The closure must be lifted immediately.

2- The fundamental right to receive an education must be restored.

3- The fundamental right to religious worship must be restored.

4- The fundamental right to receive heath care must be restored.

5- The fundamental right to work must be restored.

6- Peace accords should be honored and implemented immediately

B- Document two


Osservatore Romano March 22, 1971"A very grave state of affairs is being created against legality, on the basis of the logic of "accomplished facts". The measures of expropriation surfice to give an idea of radical manner in which a character not conforming to its historical and religious nature and its universal vocation is being imposed on the Jerusalem"


May, 1996 (Jerusalem-consideration of the secretariate of State) "...The part of the City (Jerusalem) militarily occupied in 1967 and subsequently annexed and declared the Capital of the State of Israel, is OCCUPIED TERRITORIES, and all Israeli mesures which exceed the power of a belligerent occupant under international law are therefore NULL AND VOID. In particular, this same position was expressed, and is still expressed, by Resolution 478 of the United Nations Security Council, adopted on 20 August 1980, which declared the Israeli "basic law" concerning Jerusalem to be "NULL AND VOID"..."

C- Document three

The Vatican and Head of Christian Churches in Jerusalem spoke in different occasions about the refusal of the "JUDAIZATION" of Jerusalem: "A very grave state of affairs is being created against legality, on the basis of the logic of "accomplished facts". The measures of expropriation suffices to give an idea of the radical manner in which a character, not conforming to its historical and religious nature and to its universal vocation is being IMPOSED on the City (Jerusalem):

In January 1968, 300 acres of land were confiscated in the Mount Scopus area and are already largely built up with Jewish residential quarter.

In August 1970, another 1,200 acres have been conficated in the Arab Zone of Jerusalem and around the city, in order to implement the "Greater Jerusalem" plans.

Another project is under study for the Old City of Jerusalem, according to which about 6,000 Arabs will be displaced and several buildings confiscated. It is impossible to avoid experiencing a profound aprrehension towards such grave changes. Even in Israel itself these plans have provoked motivationed criticism and not just from an urbanistic point of veiw" Osservatore Roman, March 22, 1971

The document that I have quoted was written on 1971, we are in 1998, 27 years later. We cannot speak about Justice, Peace and *TRUTH* if we do not read history and facts on the ground.

Confiscation of Palestinian Lands continues, to-day hundred of thousands of acres were taken in the name of Israeli Security , Palestinian Arab Christians and Muslims were displaced, settlement were built,houses are demolished, Jerusalem is closed to the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories...The USA and the Whole world is calling for a time-out for settlements and confication of Lands, they insist on the Fudemental rights of Palestinians. Israel continues its ethnic cleansing despite of the World national and international human rights organisations appeals.

The Patriarchal comments about the visit of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II wants to put the whole international community and especially the USA administration infront of its responsability. Injustices will lead to violence, please stop all kind of violences starting by stopping the violence and suffering of the Palestinians since the creation of Israel and prepare the Great Jubilee of Jerusalem 2000.

For more information about the stand of the vatican, the Head of Christain Churches in the Middel East and the Holy Land, the US Catholic Church and the Stands of the latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, please visit Al-Bushra at and support our position for Justice, Peace and *TRUTH*.

Fr. Labib Kobti