Church and political leaders express concern over Israel’s West Bank annexation plans
By Vatican News
Palestinian authorities are calling for peaceful resistance, amid Israel’s planned annexation of portions of the occupied West Bank.
Senior Fatah official, Jibril Rajoub, during a press conference in Ramallah on Sunday, said that peaceful resistance “is important to ensuring international support for Palestinian efforts to thwart the planned annexation.” He added, “we do not believe in a transition to the ‘bloody square’ as we do not believe it serves our cause at this moment.”
At the same time, Rajoub warned that in the event that Israel applies sovereignty, those conditions might change. “We will not raise a white flag,” he said.
Rajoub also announced that protests against the annexation bid will take place on Monday, beginning from Jericho.
The annexation move, which the Israeli government says could begin as early as 1 July, has set off confrontations between Jerusalem and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA). Several other religious and political authorities have also expressed their concern about the proposed move.
Rajoub’s protest call comes amid wide-ranging lockdowns imposed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in the West Bank.
Church leaders express concern
In a recent statement, the Catholic Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, Anglican Bishop Emeritus Riah Abu El Assal, and Lutheran Bishop Emeritus Munib A. Younan voiced their concern about the status of the Holy Land amid this situation.
“The Holy Land is in fire, in a situation of war, and needs to be restored to its holiness," they said. "It is full of human sufferings, because justice is absent. The land of God calls on all churches, governments, and people of good will, to act and put an end to this tragedy. All believers are responsible."
“We write this appeal as Arab Palestinian Christians, who have lived here since Pentecost, and form an integral part of our society”, the statement read.
Call to peace and reconciliation
The Catholic and Protestant Bishops recalled that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and He has entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18)." In this spirit, they continued, "we write and ask you to share in the mission of peace-making and reconciliation, restoring holiness to the Land of the Holy One, the Holy Land.”
The Bishops also called for reconciliation “based on equal dignity and rights of all people, no more one people against the other, no more one people oppressing the other." They also emphasized that the Covid-19 pandemic has diverted attention from problems of justice and peace to questions of life and death.
Bishops Sabbal, El Assal and Younan point out that “Jerusalem is Key to this peace, not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but also uniting adherents of the three monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”
“Help Jerusalem become the center of reconciliation, justice and equality. When peace comes to Jerusalem, God-willing, peace will come to the whole world,” they appealed.
The Bishops noted that “the solution to this conflict was identified many years ago and expressed through numerous UN resolutions." They also highlighted that “the majority of nations already recognize both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.”
They called on Israel to defuse the tension and comply with UN Resolutions, pointing out that “the Israeli military occupation and colonization of Palestine is the root cause of the on-going conflict.”
“Our call is simply this, please implement what was already recognized. Help Israel have its security. Help Palestine have its independence. Help both states to live side by side in peace, justice, equity and democracy. Let there be no more hatred, no more death, but only justice, equality and life,” appealed Sabbal, El Assal and Younan.
Concluding the statement, the Church leaders appealed that it is time to act to “extinguish the destructive fires raging in the Holy land, adding that “only a just peace will put end to hatred, to oppression, and the suffering.”