Jerusalem church leaders call for end to Palestinian in-fighting

By staff writers
June 15, 2007

The patriarchs and heads of the historic Christian churches (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant) in the divided city of Jerusalem have made a strong, united appeal for an end to the fighting between Fateh and Hamas.

In a letter sent out yesterday, they make a specifically religious appeal for violence and fratricide to cease, as well as highlighting the tragedy of continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the need for a two-state solution.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas forces continued to demolish Fateh facilities and to ridicule President Abbas - who has announced a new emergency authority and prime minister.

On the West Bank it is Fateh, the once supremely powerful party of the late Yasser Arafat, rthat emains in control. But the deposed Hamas PM says that his radical movement is the one adhering to democratic principles, while its domestic and international opponents refuse to accept "the will of the people".

Into this fast disintegrating situation, the Christian leaders from Jerusalem write: "On the recent 40th Anniversary of the Occupation we urged all sides to work for peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. How painful and awful then that now we have to say stop all domestic fighting."

They continue: "The fighting has struck at the most vulnerable timing thus diverting international attention away from the National issue with its priorities and so disappointing the Palestinian people's hope of attaining independence together with freedom from occupation with its related aspects."

Domestic in-fighting, they say, "is detrimental to all the aspirations of achieving security and stability for the Palestinian people."

The heads of churches continue: "In the name of the One and only God as well as in the name of each devastated Palestinian many of whom are still dying, we urge our brothers in Fateh and Hamas movements to listen to the voice of reason, truth and wisdom. So we implore that you immediately announce the cessation of all bloody fighting and to return back to the path of dialogue and attempt through understanding to solve [their] differences.

"In this urgent appeal we would draw attention to that which both parties have in common assuring them that it is greater that their differences. The national and land cause must be greater than any other consideration.

"In this belief we urgently ask both movements to listen and put aside all weapons so concentrating on ending the Occupation in a peaceful manner based on national fundamentals and international legitimacy in order to achieve freedom for all the people together with an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."

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