Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, head of the Department of Diplomacy and Public Policy and Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, discussed the dangers facing the Christian presence in Palestine and the increase in the flow of immigration due to the economic and political situation, noting that “We do not want churches in Palestine to become museums for tourism and empty of their owners.”
This came during a meeting coordinated by the Higher Presidential Committee of Churches Affairs in Palestine, with a delegation of 26 Bishops representing Catholic Churches around the world, which was held in the headquarters of Palestine Liberation Organization in Ramallah.
Ashrawi added “the systematic policies of the Israeli occupation on house demolitions, illegal seizure of lands belonging to Palestinian citizens, settlement expansion and targeting religious sanctities with disregard to all international covenants and laws, relying on the protection granted by the Trump administration, especially after the illegal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the occupying state and the transfer of the American embassy to it, has harmed the Palestinian cause. The Israeli occupation is trying in every way to obliterate the Palestinian and Arab history in Jerusalem by telling its version of the story and working in all ways to empty Jerusalem of its Palestinian residents, in order to implement the racist law, the Jewish nation-state Law, which was adopted by the Israeli Knesset. We do not want Jerusalem to be a city of conflict between religions or to be restricted to Jews only”.
Ashrawi praised the continuous visits of the delegation to Palestine, which reflects their interest in standing with the Palestinian people and their just cause, “I believe in the need for collaboration with the churches and its institutions to bring a just peace and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and strengthen the Christian presence in Palestine, the birthplace of Christianity and to work with governments to correct their policies and take serious steps in support of the Palestinian cause and their rights to freedom and independence”.
Ambassador Amira Hanania, General Manager of the Higher Presidential Committee of Churches Affairs, briefed the delegation on the situation of the Christian Palestinians in particular and what Palestinians in general are exposed to as a result of the Israeli occupation, stressing the role of the Committee in strengthening the Christian presence in the Holy Land, and its continuous work to stop the flow of immigration, pointing out the goals of the committee in consolidating the Christian presence despite all the obstacles and methods of isolation adopted by the occupation government to divide One people geographically and demographically, adding “the Christians are an integral part of the Palestinian social fabric and suffer like everyone else in Palestine from the racial discrimination of the Israeli occupation towards everyone who is not Jewish, which was justified with the Jewish nation-state law that was adopted by the occupation government , which brings great danger to the Arab presence and authorizing the occupying power to settle more lands, empowering Israeli extremists to attack churches, mosques and innocent citizens”.
Furthermore, Nour Odeh, consultant and a specialist in diplomatic affairs, explained that Christians and Muslims in Palestine are subject to the same conditions under the practices of the Israeli occupation, where both Muslims and Christians are inseparable in the Palestinian society, living together in harmony and coexistence, drawing the beautiful image of Palestine with its Churches and Mosques.