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100 Christian community leaders back UN bid

Nov. 14, 2012 4:33 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 14, 2012 10:24 P.M.)
Palestine, the Holy Land, is our homeland. Our roots here stretch for centuries. We, Palestinian Christians, are the descendants of the first Christians. We are also an organic and integral component of the Palestinian people. And just like our Palestinian Muslim brothers and sisters, we have been denied our national and human rights for almost a century.

We have endured dispossession and forced exile since 1948, when two thirds of Palestine's Christians were forcibly expelled from their homes in the Holy Land. Our presence in our Holy Land has been under threat since then, choked by a snaking wall that has devoured our land and deprived our congregations of hope and peace in the land that was blessed with the birth of the Prince of Peace. We have persevered through 64 years of exile and 45 years of occupation, holding on to His message of peace. We, Palestinian Christians, say enough! Our message is simple: to achieve peace, the world must also say enough to occupation and the degradation of human dignity.

As Christian community leaders in Palestine, we are entitled to seek a just peace that will lead to reconciliation and the realization of our people's natural rights. The current status quo is untenable. On one side, there is a people under occupation and on the other, a belligerent occupying power that works tirelessly to distance us from the peace we seek and pray for. We Christians have a duty to confront oppression. 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.

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. It is the way to preserve our history and help tear down the occupation's wall that disconnected Jerusalem and Bethlehem for the first time since the birth of Christianity.

We, Palestinian Christian leaders, part of the indigenous people of the Holy Land and descendants of the first Christians, have witnessed the changes of this land over the centuries. We have suffered the loss and have carried the cross for all these years. The occupation, oppression, exile and Apartheid, have made of every day a good Friday. We hope that your actions and prayers, along with ours, will help us get closer to the day of our own resurrection as a free nation.

We believe the PLO's initiative to enhance Palestine’s status in the United Nations to an observer state is a positive, collective, and moral step that will get us closer to freedom. This is a step in the right direction for the cause of a just peace in the region. We fully endorse this bid, just as we supported Palestine's application for full membership of the United Nations a year ago. That is why we call upon European governments to fully endorse the just Palestinian plight for freedom and independence.

The international community, and particularly Europe, have a historic responsibility toward Palestine’s rights. Europe has long championed the values of peace and human rights. Now, Europe can reflect this principled position by helping Palestine. We call on you to support our effort in bringing about a real peace by aligning their positions and actions with international law and UN resolutions and supporting Palestine’s UN bid. From the Holy Land, we call on you to take this peaceful, righteous, and collective step toward deliverance so that our halleluiah soon becomes a celebration of a peace we live and not a yearning for a reality we are unjustly denied.


1) Patriarch Emeritus Michael Sabbah – occupied Jerusalem

2) Archbishop Atallah Hanna – Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, occupied Jerusalem

3) Monsignor Rafik Khoury – Latin Patriarchate Seminary

4) Dr. Zoughbi Zoughbi – Director of Wi’am Center, Bethlehem

5) Vera Baboun – Mayor of Bethlehem

6) Hind Khoury – Vice President of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center and Ambassador, occupied Jerusalem

7) Fr. Faysal Hijazeen – General Director the Christian Schools in Palestine

8) Sami El-Yousef – Regional Director for Palestine and Israel, Pontifical Mission for Palestine, occupied Jerusalem

9) Reverend Alex Awad – Pastor of the East Jerusalem Baptist Church and Dean of Students at Bethlehem Bible College, occupied Jerusalem and Bethlehem

10) Fr. Aziz Halaweh – Parish Priest of Taybeh

11) Claudette Habash, General Secretary of CARITAS – Jerusalem, occupied Jerusalem

12) Mira Rizek – National Secretary General of YWCA Palestine, occupied Jerusalem

13) Hanna Siniora – Head of the European-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, occupied Jerusalem

14) Nabil Mushahwar – Head of the Palestine Bar Association, occupied Jerusalem

15) Afif Safieh – Ambassador, occupied Jerusalem

16) Fr. Jamal Khader – Dean of Arts, Bethlehem University

17) Fouad Kokali – Member of Parliament, Beit Sahour

18) Rifaat Kassis – Kairos Palestine General Coordinator, Beit Sahour

19) Yacoub El-Yousef – President of the Arab Orthodox Club, occupied Jerusalem

20) Dr. Bernard Sabella – University Professor and Member of Parliament, occupied Jerusalem

21) Fr. Ibrahim Shomali – Parish Priest of Beit Jala

22) Dr. Elias Iseed – Head of the Arab Orthodox Society, Beit Sahour

23) Khader Abuabara – Head of the Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Jala

24) Dr. Na’el Salman – Mayor of Beit Jala

25) Fr. Johnny Abukhalil – Parish Priest of Nablus

26) Hanna Karkar – St. Jacob's Orthodox Cathedral Board of Trustees, occupied Jerusalem

27) Antonian Society – Bethlehem

28) Hani Hayek – Mayor of Beit Sahour

29) Ibrahim Matar – President of National Christian Association, occupied Jerusalem

30) Ramzi Zananiri – Executive Director of Near East Council of Churches, occupied Jerusalem

31) Samia Khoury – Civil Society Activist, occupied Jerusalem

32) Fayez Saqqa – Member of Parliament, Bethlehem

33) Hanna Amira – Member of the PLO Executive Committee, occupied Jerusalem

34) Nader Abu Amsha – Director YMCA, occupied Jerusalem

35) Dr. Kholoud Daibes – Member of the Church of the Nativity Rehabilitation Committee, Bethlehem and former minister

36) Tony Khashram – Businessman, Occupied Jerusalem

37) Ziad Bandak – Adviser to the President, Bethlehem

38) Fr. Raed Sahlia – Parish Priest of the Holy Family Church, Ramallah

39) Lena Saleh – Educator, occupied Jerusalem

40) Edmond Shehadeh – General Director of the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation, Beit Jala

41) Simon Kouba – Engineer and Community Activist, occupied Jerusalem

42) Xavier Abu Eid – Adviser to the PLO Negotiations Team and honorary Member of the Papal Scout Troup, Beit Jala

43) Kamal Boullata – Artist and Art Historian, occupied Jerusalem

44) Salim Hodali – Head of Diaspora Section, Bank of Palestine, Beit Jala

45) Francis Tams – Civil Society Activist, occupied Jerusalem

46) Pauline Nunu – Spokesman for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel, occupied Jerusalem

47) Fr. Hanna Salem – Vice Director of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary, Beit Jala

48) Yusef Daher – Jerusalem Inter Church Center, occupied Jerusalem

49) Manuel Hassasian – Ambassador, occupied Jerusalem

50) Dr. Samir Hazboun – President of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, Bethlehem

51) Elie Shehadeh – Palestinian National Initiative, Bethlehem

52) Antoine Nesnas – Community Activist, occupied Jerusalem

53) George Lama – Center for Cultural Heritage Preservation, Bethlehem

54) Honey Thalgieh – Captain of the Palestine National Women’ Football Team, Bethlehem

55) Renee Bahu – Retired Teacher, Ramallah

56) Kamal Daibes – Member of Ramallah Municipal Council, Ramallah

57) Albert Hani – Head of Papal Scouts Group, Beit Jala

58) Saint Vincent de Paul Society – Beit Jala

59) Fr. Iyad Twal – Parish priest of Beit Sahour, Beit Sahour

60) Dr. Muna Mushahwar – Arab Orthodox Club, occupied Jerusalem

61) Fr. Johnny Bahbah – Latin Patriarchate Seminary, Beit Jala

62) Fr. Emcula Sema’an – Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Beit Jala

63) Diana Safieh – Dame of the Holy Sepulcher, occupied Jerusalem

64) Dr. Suleiman Abu Dayyeh – Head of Palestine Desk – Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty, occupied Jerusalem

65) Sister Hala George – occupied Jerusalem

66) Hania Persekian – Arab Orthodox Club, occupied Jerusalem

67) Issa Kassasieh – Arab Studies Society – Orient House and member of the Arab Orthodox Club, occupied Jerusalem.

68) George Bahu – University Lecturer, Ramallah

69) Diana Mushahwar – The Four Homes of Mercy, occupied Jerusalem

70) Fr. Yousef Hodali – Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Beit Jala

71) Tony Salman – National Christian Coalition, occupied Jerusalem

72) Antony Habash – Regional Director – Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Bethlehem

73) Nidal Abuzuluf – Manager of Joint Advocacy Initiative – YMCA, Beit Sahour

74) Mireille Ghnem – President of YWCA Jerusalem, occupied Jerusalem

75) Mazin Qumsieh – Professor Bethlehem University, Beit Sahour

76) Vivien Sansour – writer and photographer, Beit Jala

77) Yasmine Khoury – Kairos Palestine, Bethlehem

78) Michel Awad – Executive Director SIRAJ Center, Beit Sahour

79) Anton Hanna Siniora – The National Christian Association, occupied Jerusalem

80) Maher Sahlieh – Palestine Scouts Association, occupied Jerusalem

81) Usama Zoughbi – Civil Society Activist, Bethlehem

82) Ramzi Sansour – Assistant Professor and Consultant, Bethlehem

83) Ghassan Daoud – Head of the Association of Orthodox Housing Project, Beit Sahour

84) Fr. Boulos Alam – Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Beit Jala

85) Near East Council of Churches – Jerusalem, occupied Jerusalem

86) Issa Kassis – CEO Palestine Mortgage & Housing Corporation, Ramallah

87) Arab Orthodox Club – Bethlehem, Bethlehem

88) Fr. George Shahwan – Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Beit Jala

89) Dr. Varsen Aghabakian – Development Consultant – occupied Jerusalem

90) Haifa Baramki – Vice President – YWCA Palestine, Ramallah

91) Raed Abed Rabboh – Public Relations Director at Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ) and Member Mar Mansour Christian Association, Beit Jala

92) Issam Moghannam – Head of the Holy Family Scout Troup, Ramallah

93) Wassef Daher – Head of Board YMCA – Palestine, occupied Jerusalem

94) Dr. Aghlab Khoury – President of the Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Sahour

95) George Rishmawi – Head of SIRAJ Center and Alternative Tourism Group, Beit Sahour

96) Mouhib Awad – Member of Parliament, Ramallah

97) Fr. Louis Hazboun – Parish Priest of Bir Zeit, Bir Zeit

98) Andre Batarseh – Secretary General of YMCA, occupied Jerusalem

99) Nizar Habash – Journalist and former head of Holy Family Scout Troup, Ramallah

100) Nora Karmi – Kairos Palestine, occupied Jerusalem

This letter has been endorsed by hundreds of priests, reverends and other community leaders in Europe.
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