In a Middle East region that continues to suffer from the consequences of violence, the people of Palestine continue to live under occupation and in exile. Palestinian Christians, the descendants of the first Christians, are an integral part of the Palestinian people, continue to suffer, just like our Palestinian Muslim and Samaritan brothers and sisters, we have been denied of our national and human rights for almost a century. From Jerusalem, our occupied capital, we send our urgent message to the whole world and particularly to Europe: We are yearning for justice and peace. Recognizing Palestine and defining Israel’s borders is a first step towards that goal.
We have endured dispossession and forced exile since 1948, when the majority of Palestine's Christians were forcibly expelled from their homes in the Holy Land. We have persevered through 66 years of exile and 47 years of occupation, holding on to the message of peace of Our Lord. We are tired of calls for resumptions of negotiations while we can’t reach our churches due to a foreign power and our people continue to be humiliated by an undesirable occupation. We are waiting for the day that our churches will ring celebrating freedom and justice.
Christians have a duty to resist oppression. We believe the international community and particularly Europe has not done enough in order to achieve a just and lasting peace. You cannot continue holding our right to freedom and self-determination as an Israeli prerogative. We have a natural right to be free and Europe has a moral, legal and political duty to hold Israel accountable and support Palestinian non-violent initiatives to end the Israeli occupation, including the recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Until when will you continue accepting Israel’s violations of your own resolutions? Until when will you allow that the prospects of peace will continue to be destroyed by Israeli colonization? Until when should we be allowed to be treated as foreigners in our own homeland? Ending Israeli occupation is the only way for Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, to enjoy a life of prosperity and progress. It is also the surest way to secure continued Christian presence in this, our Holy Land, and to grant Israel the security that it continues to demand. Without Justice there can be no peace nor security.
It is time for Europe to understand that the only way to defeat extremism and terrorism in our region is to bring justice for all, starting by ending the historic injustice inflicted against the Palestinian people, an open wound that continues to bleed as the hopes for an independent Palestinian state are more elusive due to the expansion of Israeli settlements and the many restrictions imposed on our own people, including forced displacement.
In our Kairos document, we Palestinian Christians declare that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity because it deprives Palestinians of their basic human rights, bestowed by God.
We believe that recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border is the first step towards changing the current status quo. Banning settlement products and divesting from companies and organizations linked directly or indirectly to the Israeli occupation is also a must. 66 years after the beginning of the Palestinian Nakba and 47 years after the occupation, it is time for the State of Palestine to be free and become a full member of the United Nations. That is why we call upon European governments to fully endorse the just Palestinian quest for freedom and independence.
The international community, and particularly Europe, have a historic responsibility towards the rights of the Palestinian People. Europe has long championed the values of peace and human rights. Now, Europe can reflect this principled position by helping Palestine.
From the Holy Land, we call on you to take this principled position to recognize the State of Palestine and to abide by your legal responsibilities towards a nation under occupation, in order to be able to celebrate justice and peace in the land of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.
The document is signed by over a hundred Palestinian Church leaders, diplomats, and civil society leaders and organizations as members of the local Palestinian Christian Community and not necessarily representing their international organization.
For More Information please contact:
1. Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah
2. Bishop Atallah Hanna – Greek Orthodox Church
3. Fr. Ibrahim Shomali – Parish priest of Ramallah
4. Msgr. Elias Awwad – Rector of the Greek Orthodox Church in Ramallah.
5. Fr. Yacoub Khoury – Greek Orthodox Parish Priest of Ramallah.
6. Rev. Ashraf Tannous – Lutheran Parish Pastor of Beit Sahour.
7. Fr. Johnny Abu Khalil – Parish priest of Nablus
8. Fr. Firas Aridah – Parish priest of Jifna
9. Fr. Jamal Khader – Rector of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary
10. Fr. Bashar Fawadleh – Parish Priest of Beit Sahour
11. Fr. Hanna Rishmawi – Greek Orthodox Parish Priest of Beit Sahour.
12. Fr. Faysal Hijazeen – General Director of the Christian Schools in Palestine.
13. Fr. Hanna Salem – Head of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary (Secondary).
14. Fr. Yacoub Abu Saada – Catholic Parish Priest of Bethlehem.
15. Fr. Aziz Halaweh – Parish Priest of Taybeh
16. Fr. Nidal Qanzzou’s – Parish Priest of Zababdeh
17. Fr. Yousef Rizk – Parish Priest of Aboud
18. Fr. Julio – Greek Catholic Priest of Ramallah.
19. Ambassador Afif Safieh
20. Ambassador Hind Khoury
21. Dr. Mai Kaileh – Ambassador of Palestine to Italy
22. Mr. Issa Kassissieh – Ambassador of Palestine to the Holy See
23. Dr. Bernard Sabella – Professor and Member of Parliament
24. Mr. Suleiman Abu Dayyeh – Consultant.
25. Dr. Zoughbi Zoughbi – Bethlehem Community Activist.
26. Mr. Fuad Jacaman – Bethlehem Community Activist.
27. Mrs. Samia Khoury – Jerusalem Community Activist.
28. Mr. Nidal Abu Zulof – Joint Advocacy.
29. Mrs. Rania Murra – Bethlehem Community Activist.
30. Mr. Ibrahim Matar – Jerusalem Community Activist / NCC.
31. Mr. Anton Siniora – Jerusalem Community Activist.
32. Mr. Boutros Abu Shanab – Jerusalem Community Activist / Holy Landers.
33. Mr. Elias Abu Akleh – Bethlehem Community Activist.
34. Dr. Samir Hazboun – Head of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce.
35. Mr. Wassim Kasabreh – Cremisan Committee
36. Mr. Kamal Daibes – Ramallah Municipal Council
37. Mr. Nizar Habash – Journalist and former leader of the Holy Family Scout Group
38. Mr. Mouhib Awwad – Member of Parliament
39. Mr. Ghassan Ziadeh – Ramallah Latin Church Parish Council
40. Mr. Bassil Kasabreh – Cremisan Committee
41. Ms. Maha Saqqa – Palestinian Heritage Center
42. Mr. Raed Abed Rabboh – ARIJ Center
43. Mr. Xavier Abu Eid – Adviser to Palestinian Negotiations Team.
44. Mr. Emad Freij – Youth of the Holy Family Church – Ramallah
45. Ms. Rawan Hayek – Foreign Relations Commission Fateh Youth
46. Mr. George S. Rishmawi – Executive Director Masar Ibrahim Al Khalil.
47. Mr. Fadi F. Kattan – Tourism Consultant
48. Ms. Vera Baboun – Mayor of Bethlehem
49. Mr. Na’el Salman – Mayor of Beit Jala
50. Mr. Hani Hayek – Mayor of Beit Sahour
51. Mr. Hazib Kaileh – Mayor of Bir Zeit
52. Mr. Moughannam Ghannam – Secretary General of Christian Youth in Palestine
53. Mr. Yusef Daher - Jerusalem
54. Mr. Daoud El Issa – Jerusalem
55. Mrs. Tania Nahhas - Jerusalem
56. Mr. Majed Kreitem - Jerusalem
57. Ambassador Emad Jada’ – Ambassador of Palestine to Chile.
58. Mr. Khader Kokali – Director of the Shepherds’ Fields Hospital.
59. Ms. Yasmeen Khoury - Bethlehem
60. Mr. Qassam Ma’adi – Christian Youth Activist, Taybeh.
61. Mr. Fouad Kattan – Head of Board of Trustees Bethlehem University.
62. Mr. Farah Abu Eid – Christian Youth Activist, Beit Jala.
63. Mr. Mousa Hadid – Mayor of Ramallah.
64. Mr. Nader Abuamsha – YMCA Director, Beit Sahour.
65. Mr. Elie Shahedeh – Moubadara.
66. Dr. Elias Sa’id – President of the Arab Orthodox Society, Beit Sahour.
67. Dr. Hani Husari – Head of the Orthodox Club, Ramallah.
68. Prof. Jeries Ghneim – Professor and Christian community activist, Beit Jala.
69. Dr. Muna Mushahwar – Arab Orthodox Union Club, Jerusalem.
70. Ambassador Fouad Kokali – Ambassador of Palestine to Romania.
71. Dr. Aghlab Khoury – Head of the Orthodox Club, Beit Sahour.
72. Mr. Mikhail Rishmawi – Head of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People.
73. Dr. Charlie Abu Saada – World Vision.
74. Mr. Jeries Qumsiyeh – Head of the Arab Orthodox Club Scouts Group.
75. Mr. Omar Harami – Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem.
76. Ms. Mira Rizek – National General Secretary of YWCA – Palestine.
77. National Christian Association
78. Arab Educational Institute
79. Joint Advocacy Initiative
80. Kairos Palestine
81. Wi’am Palestine Center
82. Board Papal Scout Troop – Beit Jala
83. Board of Orthodox Club – Beit Jala
84. Board of Orthodox Club – Beit Sahour
85. Board of Orthodox Club – Bethlehem
86. The Holy Landers.
87. The Lady of Annunciation Society
88. Arab Benevolent Society, Beit Jala.
89. Seniors Citizens Society, Beit Jala.
90. Sons of the Earth Society, Beit Jala.
91. Palestinian Child Club, Beit Jala.
92. Church of the Holy Family, Ramallah.
93. Palestinian Youth Union.
94. Child Care Society.
95. Orthodox Center for Education.
96. Arab Orthodox Scouts, Beit Jala.
97. Holy Family Scout Troop, Ramallah.
98. Saint Vincent Society.
99. Ladies of Benevolent Society.
100. Ladies of Annunciation Church, Beit Jala.
101. Iskandar Khoury Cultural Center.
102. Youth Group of Latin Church, Beit Jala.
103. Youth Group of Latin Church, Ramallah.
104. Young Men Christian Association -YMCA Jerusalem ( Wassef Daher)
105. Young Women Christian Association – YWCA Jerusalem ( Mira Rizeq)