In a message to all the Palestinian people, Jerusalem church leaders alarmed at worsening relations between two main political parties are calling for an end to violence and an urgent return to the "real priorities" of Palestinians. The plan is to work with Jerusalem's top Islamic leaders on a similar Christian-Muslim message as well.
"The time has come for an all-out effort to unite our people and so concentrate on working for independence together," leaders of 13 different churches in Jerusalem said, "with the opportunity for all people in this Holy Land - Christian, Muslim and Jew - to know security and peace."
The World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva has welcomed their action. "The churches are putting the best interests of the Palestinian people first at a critical time," said Clement John, WCC's international affairs director. "Factional fighting is a failure of vision and responsibility for a people who will soon face their 40th year under foreign occupation. As the churches point out, the real priority is the same for everyone - Christians, Muslims and Jews. It is the urgent need for peace with justice based on United Nations resolutions."
The church heads call for a removal of arms from the street, a government of national unity and an Israeli-Palestinian return to the negotiating table.
Jerusalem church leaders pledged to play their part in ending strife and made an offer of mediation. Internal conflict will not bring down the Wall or end the embargo on the Palestinian people, the message noted. Instead, it said calm was needed so parties can consider how much is currently at stake.
Most of the 13 leaders who signed the statement are from churches that are members of the World Council of Churches.
The full text of the statement by the patriarchs and heads of local Christian churches in Jerusalem is available on the WCC website.