Urgent Appeal from the Bethlehem Governorate on the issue of the threat to the Christian presence in the Holy Land.

The Mayor of Bethlehem, Anton Salman with  the Mayor of  Beit Jala, Nicola Khamis and Mayor of Beit Sahour, Jihad Khair sent an urgent appeal to His Holiness  Pope Francis on the dangers and threats to the Christian presence in the Holy Land, particularly after the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court on 11 June 2019, in favour of the settler colonial group “Ateret Cohanim”  regarding the three properties of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem located in Jaffa Gate in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

“As your Holiness has previously walked the old streets of the Holy City, you have witnessed that these properties in Jaffa Gate are our gateway to all the Patriarchates and Churches in the Holy Land and most importantly the portal that leads us to our most sacred church, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We fear that control of an extremist colonial settler organization over our Christian church properties would jeopardize the mosaic of diversity in the Christian quarter and ultimately impede our access to our Holy places.”

In the letter, the Mayors expressed the importance for an urgent intervention to stop the many constraints that the Israeli occupation has been placing on the Christian community in the Holy Land, compelling the fragile community to leave, thereby threatening the presence of Christians in the land of Jesus Christ.

The Mayors also reminded His Holiness on the previous appeal on the dangers facing the Cremisan Valley, where the annexation wall cuts through the heart of the valley, which affected all aspects of life in Cremisan. Despite multiple interventions by the international community, including from the Holy See, and the declaration of illegality of this annexation wall by the International Court of Justice, the Israeli occupation continues its construction of the wall in defiance of the international community and international law.

The Mayors expressed their highest gratitude and appreciation to His Holiness Pope Francis and indicated the importance not to allow for the breach of the long respected Status Quo of the Holy City of Jerusalem and maintain the Christian character of the Christian quarter.

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