“We see in
these actions a systematic attempt to undermine the integrity of the Holy City
of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and to weaken the Christian presence. We affirm
in the clearest possible terms that a vital, vibrant Christian community is an
essential element in the make-up of our diverse society, and threats to the
Christian community can only increase the troubling tensions that have emerged
in these turbulent times,” the statement read.
submitted by lawmaker Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), states that all land belonging to
churches that was sold to private investors be transferred to the state in
return for compensation. The churches fear that if the bill passes, it will
hurt their ability to make future real estate deals in Israel.
Two weeks ago, the JerusalemDistrict
Court ruled that Ateret Cohanim's purchase of two monumental buildings at the
Old City's Jaffa Gate and another building in the Muslim Quarter from the Greek
Orthodox Church is valid. The court rejected the church’s argument that it was
a corrupt deal that should be voided.
attempts to undermine the Christian community of Jerusalem and the Holy Land do
not affect one Church only; they affect us all, and they affect Christians and
all people of good will around the world,” the church leaders’ statement went
on to say.
always been faithful to our mission to ensure that Jerusalem and the Holy Sites
are open to all, without distinction or discrimination, and we are unanimous in
our support of the actions, including a High Court appeal, against the
judgement in the ‘Jaffa Gate’ case and in our opposition to any proposed law
that would restrict the rights of the Churches over our properties.”
leaders also called for Israel to be pressured to keep the bill from advancing.
therefore, as those to whom Divine Providence has entrusted the care of both
the Holy Sites and the pastoral oversight of the living, indigenous Christian
communities of the Holy Land, call upon our fellow Church leaders and faithful
around the world, as well as the heads of governments, and all people of good
will, to support us in order to ensure that no further attempts are made from
any quarter to change the historical Status Quo and its provisions and spirit,”
the statement said.
stress strongly enough the very serious situation that this recent systematic
assault on the Status Quo has had on the integrity of Jerusalem and on the
well-being of the Christian communities of the Holy Land, as well as on the
stability of our society. We, the Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem, stand
resolutely together in working for reconciliation and for a just and lasting
peace in our region, and we ask God’s blessings on all the peoples of our
beloved Holy Land,” the statement concluded.“I am working to resolve the
residents’ real problem. This is about the investors who bought the lands, not
about the church,” Azaria said in response to the statement. “Our goal is to
protect the people who live in the apartments and don’t know what tomorrow will
bring. We have always respected the church. But as soon as the sales are made
to anonymous buyers, that’s who we are dealing with, and it’s not connected to
the church. I have a responsibility to the people who live in the
apartments. For me, the question is, 'how do I protect the residents of
Beside The Creek Editor's Note/Food for Thought:
There is an interesting word in this article: "indigenous". There are many claims on Jerusalem and Israel but is it about time that governments, including the government of Israel, acknowledge that there are indigenous claims which are historic and that there are returning and/or immigrant claims which may not be historic but opportunistic. For instance, how possible it might be for opportunistic immigrant claims from Jews to trump (no pun intended) genuine and historically proven claims from Christians and Muslims.