The Higher Presidential Committee for Church Affairs in Palestine was established by a presidential decree issued by His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas on 23/5/2012. It is the first time a special committee was established in Palestine dedicated to overseeing the legal, property, institutional, and other affairs related to Christian Churches and places of worship. The primary objective is to reinforce the principle of full equality before the law and foster the creation of a state promoting equal citizenship for all segments of the Palestinian people. The committee fulfills its responsibilities in accordance with the directives of the Palestinian presidency, in collaboration with official and local institutions, and on both regional and international fronts.
Dr. Ramzi Khouri, Member of the PLO Executive Committee, Head of the Higher Presidential Committee for Churches Affairs in Palestine
Mr. Adnan Husseini
Mr. Mousa Hadid
Mr. Majdi Khalidi
Mr. Omar Awadallah
Mr. Amman Hijazi
Mr. Adnan Ghaith
Ms. Kholoud Daibes
Mr. Issa Kassissieh
Mr. Samir Hazboun
Mr. Maher Ayyad
Ms. Varsen Aghabekian
Ms. Amira Hanania, in addition to her Duties
Mr. Jihad Khair, in addition to his Duties
Mr. Yousef Barakat
Mr. Anton Hilo
Unified social cohesion, a cohesive societal fabric, a national identity and unity and coexistence among all segments and religious groups, which serve as a solid foundation propelling the Palestinian national struggle and fulfilling the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
Principles and Values:
- Affirming that the State of Palestine is the national homeland of the Palestinian people, wherever they may be, as they cultivate their national and cultural identities, while preserving their religious and political beliefs.
- Ensuring equal rights for all citizens without discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, color, or gender.
- Fostering complete legal equality and building a state of equal citizenship for all the Palestinian people.
- Actively contributing in efforts to address the immigration of Palestinian Christians from their homeland, and working to minimize and ultimately halt this phenomenon.
- Confronting the Israeli occupation’s efforts and policies to displace Christians from Jerusalem, especially its intent to transform the city into a solely Jewish city, with the aim of eradicating the Muslim and Christian identity in Jerusalem.
- Rehabilitations and restorations of churches and their affiliated facilities, such as schools, nurseries, centers, associations, clubs, and scouting organizations. This is geared to preserve the Christian historical legacy in the Holy Land and strengthening the resilience of Christians in their homeland.
- Highlighting the shared Muslim-Christian national role as an integral part of the Palestinian national and societal fabric in political and social life.
- Initiating workshops for national dialogue to deepen the comprehension of this collective role.
- Overhauling educational curricula across all levels to instill values of coexistence, tolerance, and fraternity, by promoting the concepts of responsible and equal citizenship.
- Challenging the Israeli narrative regarding the alleged Promised Land and the chosen people, which is adopted by Christian Zionism, through engaging in dialogue and organizing visits to nations and Churches inclined towards the Israeli narrative, to influence corrections that address injustices and promote justice.
- Shedding light on Israeli practices and biased propaganda campaigns targeting various religious institutions, especially on the international stage.
- Defending the Christian and Muslim existence, particularly in Jerusalem, by debunking attempts to portray the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a religious conflict between Muslims and Jews, redirecting attention to its political nature involving land occupation and aggression against the Palestinian people, irrespective of their religion.
- Monitoring violations against holy sites and places of worship by the Israeli occupation, by conveying an accurate portrayal of events that Israel seeks to conceal.
- Building trust and bolstering credibility with churches as integral parts of the Palestinian community and strengthening ties with church leaders through proactive communication, constructive dialogue, and swift handling of any challenges facing their congregations
- Enhancing cooperation with local, regional, and international bodies regarding ecclesiastical matters through active communication and reciprocal visits with local and global church representatives. Ensuring the participation of Church representatives in relevant discussions, organizing conferences, and engaging in external events to acquaint world churches with the Christian presence in Palestine and their point view. Emphasizing their integral role in the Palestinian cause and their equal coexistence with their Muslim counterparts in the struggle against Israeli occupation. The committee strives to strengthen relationships and ties with world churches through effective collaboration and coordination with specialized committee staff.
- Monitoring local, regional, and international activities related to interfaith dialogue, in accordance with the President’s directives and the committee’s plan.
- Participating in relevant activities at both local and global levels. The committee also coordinates with Churches to organize and engage in such dialogues and discussions. It actively promotes interfaith dialogue with church leaders, Islamic organizations, and enhance relations between Muslims and Christians in Palestine. This includes organizing conferences and meetings dedicated to interfaith dialogue, as well as hosting delegations from abroad to apprise them of the situation in Palestine.
- Emphasizing the Christian national role in the political and social life of Palestine as an integral part of the national and societal fabric.
- Affirming the civic and ecclesiastical national role, the committee integrates church institutions into social, developmental, and investment activities. It underscores the role of churches in negotiations, particularly concerning Jerusalem, and actively communicates with churches to support Palestinian churches’ participation in Middle Eastern and global forums. The committee assists local churches in resolving outstanding issues and internal challenges.
- Bringing attention to Israeli violations and attacks, as well as propaganda campaigns targeting various religious institutions.
- Monitoring Israel’s official positions on churches and their diverse issues, tracking ecclesiastical and international reactions to Israeli practices. Informing official Palestinian entities about updates on these practices for further action.