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Letter from Jerusalem


“There is a time for killing, a time for healing; a time for
knocking down,
a time for building; … a time for throwing stones away, a time
gathering them; … a time for war, a time for peace” (Eccl.

We, the Patriarchs and the Heads of Churches in this Land, are concerned for
the recent developments and the spiral violence directly affecting the lives
of the people. We are distressed to find that the bloodshed is increasing in
this Country. We are saddened to see more widows, orphans, mourning fathers
and mothers on both sides. We deplore the increase of injured people because
of killing, shelling bombarding, violence and incursion. We ask “Is this the
future that we all want for our children?”

We believe that the key to a just peace is in the hands of both the Israeli
Government and the Palestinian Authority. War shelling and destruction will
not bring justice and security; rather it will intensify hatred and

We believe that Israeli and Palestinian peoples are called to be partners in
an historic peace.

We would confirm that we care for the security of both Peoples just as we
care for the security of every human being. But the way the present Israeli
Government is dealing with the situation makes neither for security nor for
a just peace. We believe that the Israeli security is dependant on the
Palestinian freedom and justice. For this reason, we join our voices with
every Israeli and Palestinian seeking for a just peace. We ask everyone to
take the appropriate measures to stop further massacres or tragedies for our
two peoples. We want to say a frank, honest word to the Israeli conscience
and the Israeli Government asking that you stop all kinds of destruction and
death caused by the heavy Israeli weaponry. What assurance can be offered to
a people deprived of freedom, self-determination, sovereignty and equality
with every Israeli citizen?

To the Palestinian people we urge an end of every kind of violent response.

We believe that the way of peace is the way of negotiation. If there is a
strong will for making peace all the pending disputed problems will find a
dignified solution.

We appeal to the Israeli people to work for their security in such a way
that is just and in which the Palestinians may enjoy their rights as
represented in the International Legitimacy. We ask you in the name of the
Living God, Whom we all worship, to raise your voice for justice, peace, and
reconciliation which are the cry of the soul of all peoples of the world.

Inspired by the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes, We can say: “We have
tried war, stones, killing and destruction all the period of the conflict.
Time has come for peace, justice and the collecting of stones for building,
reconciliation and healing”. Our prayers for peace are more urgently needed
than ever.

Know that we have contacted our partner Churches abroad with their
respective Governments to seek their assistance in our quest for peace.

“I will hear what God proclaims; for He proclaims peace to his people,
and to his faithful ones, and to those who put in Him their hope” (Ps

+ Patriarch Irenios I: Greek Orthodox Patriarch
+ Patriarch Torkom II: Armenian Orthodox Patriarch
+ Patriarch Michel Sabbah: Latin Patriarch
+ Anba Abraham: Coptic Orthodox Archbishop
+ Swerios Malki Mourad: Syrian Orthodox Archbishop
+ Abba Cuostos: Ethiopian Orthodox Archbishop
+ Paul Nabil Sayyah: Maronite Patriarchal Exarch
+ Bishop Riah Abu Al-Assal: Episcopal Church Bishop of Jerusalem
+ Bishop Mounib Younan: Lutheran Evangelical Bishop
+ Archimandrite Mtanious Haddad: Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarch
+ Georges Khazzoum: Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch
Father Giovanni Battistelli, O.F.M.: Custos of the Holy Land.
Fr. Elias Tabban: for the Syrian Catholic Exarchate

Jerusalem, March 9, 2002

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