The Stand of the Church on Jerusalem

Worked by Fr. Labib Kobti

You will find documents:

1- From The Vatican

2- From the Roman Catholic Church of Jerusalem

3- From the US Catholic Church, Protestant Communities and Churches for Middle East Peace and others



Osservatore Romano March 22, 1971- March 25 "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 City. In January 1968, 300 acres of land were confiscated in the Mount Scopus area and are already largely built up with Jewish residential quarters. In August 1970, another 1,200 qcres have beeen confiscated 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 grave buildings confiscated. It is impossible to avoid experiencing a profound apprehansion towards such grave changes. Even in Israel itself these plans have provoked motivated criticism and not just form an urbanistic point of view"


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 NUL 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"..."

B- Patriach Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Roman Catholic Archbishop and Patriarch of Jerusalem)


1996, however, has not been a year of peace for people in the Holy Land.Instead, we have witnessed the harvest of hatred and enmity manifestingitself in the form of death and suffering amongst all the children of our forefather Abraham. Hope has turned to despair and good will to mistrust. Suicide bombings, wholesale closures and rising extremism have impacted Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. Hopes for peacehave been stunted by human violence and unyielding postures...

As we look to a new year, we also pray for renewed hope amongst the two peoples of this land. Let all governments respect the dignity and human rights of everyone. Let all people respect others as they respect themselves and, as called for by the prophet Amos, Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream(5:24).


Those land where the Israelis decided to build new stettlements are for the most Christian Community lands. “Have the Israeli Authorities the intention to reduce the Christian presence and invite Christians to emigrate by confiscating their lands? Asks the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem! The answer is that the Israeli continued their politic of confiscation and decided to build against the international laws.): "The Confiscation of any land, in Palestian territories, can only provoke opposition to and endanger the peace process. We cannot understand such contradictory measures: from one side Palestinians are requested to make peace, on the other side, their lands are confiscated. These confiscations raise in all hearts frustration and despair and are one of the main factors which is exploiled by extremists, and which lead to more violence. Again, all, people and authorities, want violence to disappear once for all; but at the same time, measures are taken by responsabile authority to give more fuel to extremists and to violence... Therefore we ask Israeli Authorities to reconsider their decision and to stop these confiscatioins, in order to build a solid peace and security for all, Israelis and Palestians".

3- SEPTEMBER 29, 1996

After the opening of the Tunnel under the Aksa Mosqu: "We are part of all what has been happening in Jerusalem. We are part of the Holy City, and of all happenings in it. The sufferings of all the residents of this city, Palestinians and Israelis alike, are our sufferings too. Our prayer is that, one day, peace,based upon justice, truth and trust, may become a reality in the heartsof all the components of the City.

We believe that the direct reasons beyond the outbreak of this violence wave triggered by the tunnel incident and spread throughout the Palestinian cities, are the jamming of the peace process along with all the accumulated injustice and sufferings of People in the Palestinian cities, the repeated closures of the Palestinian cities and especially of Jerusalem, the continuous land confiscation aiming to expand the Jewish settlements, the effort to reduce the Palestinian Christian and Muslim presence in Jerusalem through confiscating the ID's of Jerusalem residents who live, forany reason out side the Holy City's borders whether in the Palestinian regions or aboard, the demolishing of houses, the holding of Palestinian prisoners, and the continuous humiliation and harassment in the way of dealing with Palestinians, and finally the worsening of the situation of daily living to a miserable level.

Nevertheless, we also believe that violence cannot but generate violence. Only peace can produce peace. It is only through respecting and guaranteeing basic human rights and human dignity that peace will be maintained. We sincerely are calling upon the Israeli authorities, with the primary aim to reach the needed security for the Israeli people himself, and we say to them that security cannot become a reality without insuring the same security to the Palestinians in Jerusalem and in all their cities. We urge them to reactivate the Peace Process and without any more delays or hesitations. Time is not working for the peacemakers. Rather, time is costing immeasurable pain and suffering and is only benefitting extremism and violence. We do not want that violence be the only language that moves issues and alert authorities, but let wise determination and good intentions the motive for moving the Peace Process.

4- OCTOBER 10th, 1996 PRESS RELEASE sent to the Catholic Bishops World Wide

It states as follows: "THIS IS AN URGENT APPEAL FORASSISTANCE AND ACTION. 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.


A message of hope and courage for our leaders, Israelis, who have in hand war and peace. A message which says: you can make peace. The way to peace is justice. Justice which allows each one, individual and people, to enjoy his own freedom, to take his own decisions for his life and destiny. A message of hope for our Palestinian authority, not to lose hope before all kinds of difficulties, coming from the blockage of the peace process, or coming from its own interior administration; hope which gives strength and light to find the people who can build in this difficult but decisive moment of its history.


Blood is still unfortunately being shed. Violence is still in the hearts and blindness concerning the rights of others are still in the minds of the leaders. The blood being shed is innocent blood. It is possible to stop this bloodshed, if the leaders open their eyes to see that every human being derives his dignity from God's dignity, Israelis and Palestinians alike, and that dignity with dignity is saved; the Israeli dignity will only be confermed with the Palestinian dignity. There is no possibility to escape from this equality among peoples if peace is to be reached. Every effort to forget or to remain blind about that will keep the innocent blood being shed; and those responsible for violence are the ones who recourse to violence and those who provoke violence by unwise or unjust decisions..


The promise of total freedom remains a pure promise. In the meanwhile, the fabric of society is beginning to disintegrate. Suffering, death and emigration are going on and prisoners are waiting in their prisons to be given back their freedom and dignity.

The picture is dark. This is the reality. It is true that there is a brighter side to our spiritual and pastoral life. But the absence of peace is making hard every aspect of our life. Despite that, and also because of that, we say there is no alternative to peace, a true peace based on justice and dignity for every person, every community and people. Total peace given to the Palestinian people is the only way which can pacify the hearts and bring a radical conversion in the minds of both peoples. It is difficult, if not impossible, to begin reconciliation as long as there are injustices imposed upon one party. It is this inequality which gives birth to violence. Total freedom to the Palestinian people is the only way which will put an end to all violence and which will produce security and make possible reconciliation among all..



JANUARY 1997 "Jerusalm at peace cannot belong exlusively to one people, one country or one religion, Jerusalem should be open to all, shared by all... two peoples and three relgions" (CMEP is a coalition of the Washington public offices of fourteen different Chruches and organisations)


"...God does not accept the domination of the powerful or their arrogance. Our faith assures us that any effort by the governing authority to impose peace in our country, which is not established on justice and rightousness will lead to failure and disaster. We, therefore, urgently call on the Israeli governement to pursue the peace process with all seriousness and to carry out all its obligations to our people".


Counsel of Catholic Bishops of Orient, General Secretary, "The anxiety of Arab Palestinains people is growing, since cities have become mass prisons because of restraining freedom of the Israli governement. All seems to prepare for a big reaction that could lead to violence".


In a letter to President Clinton March 6,1995: "...In contravention of International law, more and more land is taken out of Palestinian hands and placed under Israeli control by annexation often coercive or of questionable legality...Israeli planinning for "Greater Jerusalem" is an open secret...Israeli's assertion that Jerusalem will remain the "eternal and undivided capital of Israel" is widely interpreted as a claim of exclusive Israeli sovereignity over the city that pre-empts genuine negotiation...That the adminstration is backing away from the long-term U.S. policy that East Jerusalem is subject to U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 regarding TERRRITORIES OCCUPIED by Israeli armed forces in 1967...That the Administration is failling to recognise and support Palestian rights and interests in Jerusalem...That the administation is not using its considerable influence to halt Israeli construction in East Jerusalm and contributed expansion into Palestinians areas...' (Signed by Roman Catholic Cardinal William H. Keeler, Kara Newell: American Friends Service Committee, Fr. Gerald L. Brown SS: Catholic Conference of Major Superiors, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Lakovos, Episcopal Bishop Edmond L. Browning, Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitain Philip Saliba, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Bishop Herbert W Chilstrom, Robert A. Seiple World vision )

5) US CATHOLICS: A LETTER TO SECRETARY OF STATE Madeleine Albright, March 21, 1997, by the Chairman of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops, Archbishop Maccarrick:

"I urge you to do all in your power to have the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority commit thernselves to refrain from all actions, especially in relation to Jerusalem, which pre-empt the final status talks and insist that they engage in genuine and just negotiations with one another.

The U.S. veto of the Security Council resolution on Har Homa and your recent reticence on the matter raises questions about the US. role as a honest broker in the peace process.

Unless the U.S. leads in establishing genuine respect for the Interests of both sides, no negotiation can expect to result in a just and lasting peace.

In this context1: I would recall to your attention the position of the Holy See on the question of Jerusalern as a matter that needs the serious consideration of the United States government: The Holy See (The Vatican) calls for (1) an equitable solution based on negotiation, in which (2) the parties acknowledge the universal religious significance of Jerusalem (3) provide guarantees for the rights of the three religious comnunities in the Holy City on the same level and (4) further assures those rights with wider international agreement. The NCCI /USCC fully shares the Holy See' sposition on this vital matter. The Catholic church in the United States has been a defender of the State of Israel, an advocate of a PalestInian homeland, and a firm supporter of the peace process. I write you in the hope that the United States government, as the major sponsor of the peace process, will find a way to preseve a just negotiation as a means toward a just and stable peace.

In these terrible days off renewed violence, increased tension and growing conflict, we urge the United States not only to condemn terror which it must, but also to act unequivocly and clearly to revive the peace process and to oppose actions by any of the parties which undermine the essential search for a just and lasting peace in the land believers call "holy" Clear and principled U.S leadership tar a just peace is essential in these very difficrult days"


NOVEMBER 14, 1994 Memorundum of their Beatitudes the Patriachs and of head of the Christian Communities in Jerusalem, Jerusalem, November 14, 1994 ( The Significance of Jerusalem for Christians) "...Every exclusivity or every human supremacy is against the prophetic character of Jerusalem. Its univeral vocation and appeal is to be a city of peace and harmony among all who dwell therein...Jerusalem cannot belong exclusively to one people or to one religion. Jerusalem should be open to all, shared by all. Those who govern the city should make it "the capital of humankind"...Because of the univeral significance of Jerusalem, the international community ought to be engaged in the stability and permanence of this statue. Jerusalem is too precious to be dependent solely on municipal or national political authorities, whoever they may be. Experience shows, that inernational guarantee is necessary...We invite each party to go beyond all exclusivist visions or actions, and without discrimination, to consider the religious and national aspirations of others, in order to give back to Jerusalem its true universal character and make of the city a holy place of reconciliation for humankind" (singed,in Jerusalem, by Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Latin Patriarch, Armenian Patriarch, Custos of the Holy Land, Coptic Archbishop,Ethiopian Archbishop, Anglican Bishop, Greek- Catholic Patriarcal Vicar, Lutheran bishop, Maronite Patriarchal Vicar, Catholic Syriac Patriarchal Vicar)


Help us give back to Jerusalem its true universal character and make of the city a holy place of reconciliation for humankind, a capital for two states Israel and Palestine, a place where Jews, Christians and Muslims can show to the whole world their spiritual mission of love and cooperation.

An Impotant WARNING: Some people are coming or will be coming to you or calling you as a Chruch or a Priest or an Organization. They will be asking you to support the Peace Process and demanding $250 (less or more) as a support. Please do not give them money.

When you tell them that you do not want to give money, they may tell you that you are anti-semite, anti-Jew and anti-Israel, please do not be intemidated.

Please tell them that you are not anti anybody, and you are not pro anybody. You are only pro-Justice, Pro-Peace and especially PRO-TRUTH.

Do not let them intemidate you when they call you "anti-Semite or anti- Jewish". Stand with your conscience and your Church and dare to silence them with you clear stand for TRUTH, JUSTICE and PEACE.

For more information and articles: please visit: Al-Bushra

Yours Fr. Labib Kobti,