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Jerusalem patriarchs and heads of churches

12 January 2007



As leaders of the Christian chuches in Jerusalem concerned at the present situation in the Palestinian Territories we feel we must voice our anxiety for all our people - Christian and Moslem alike - at the deterioratating relations between Fatah and Hamas leaders and the armed forces.

It would appear that all kinds of mediation and attempts at reconciliation have so far failed, resulting in a deadlock in the situation. The latest allegations and threats which have been aired through the local and international media have resulted in some large-scale fighting which soon will be very difficult to stop. Added to this, the threatening language of the last few days by representatives of both movements and other related parties are both unprecedented and very aggressive. Such occurrences can only bring a civil war nearer by the hour. The outcome would be so drastic that it will obscure the real priorities of the whole Palestinian issue.

So we feel the time has come to call for intense prayer to Almighty God for peace and an opportunity for calm in order that all parties can consider carefully the various issues at stake. Instead of hurling accusations at each other, we would urge everyone to pray for their neighbours in the widest possible sense. It is surely time to unite rather than collide. Fighting and kidnapping opponents will not bring down the Separation Wall or end the embargo on the Palestinian people.

We believe we have an obligation to change course, especially for the sake of all our children and young people who deserve a better future devoid of hatred and bitterness. Bloodshed and violence will not bring peace; it will only further destroy family life and further endanger the economy of our land.

The time has come for an all-out effort to unite our people and so concentrate on working for independence together, with the opportunity for all people of this Holy Land - Christian, Moslem and Jew - to know security and peace.

We are ready to play our part in attempting to end the present situation as quickly as possible as mediators or in whatever role is deemed necessary and helpful by our people. It is vital to bring a real sense of unity in government; to unite the security forces; remove arms from our streets and encourage the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to the negotiating table.

In conclusion, we would remind everyone of the words of our Blessed Lord:

"Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God." (Matt. 5:9)

+ Patriarch Theolophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarchate
+ Patriarch Torkom II, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
   Fr. Pier Battista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
+ Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Abune Matthias, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayyah, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
+ Bishop Riah Abu Al-Assal, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem & the Middle East
+ Bishop Mounib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan & the Holy Land
+ Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
+ Bishop George Bakar, Greek Catholic Patiarchal Exarchate
   Fr. Raphael Minassian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate 

The Very Rev. Michael H. Sellors, coordinator to the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem