Question of Palestine home
24 April 1990
Items 23, 35 and 77 of the
QUESTION OF PALESTINE
THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO
INVESTIGATE ISRAELI PRACTICES
AFFECTING THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE
PALESTINIAN PEOPLE AND OTHER ARABS
OF THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
Letter dated 23 April 1990 from the Chargé d'affaires a.i. of the
Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations
addressed to the Secretary-General
I am instructed by the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which has the powers and responsibilities of the Provisional Government of Palestine, to enclose herewith the material issued today, 23 April 1990, by the Heads of the Christian Churches and Communities in Jerusalem for your information and action.
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of this letter circulated as an official document of the General Assembly, under items 23, 35 and 77 of the preliminary list, and of the Security Council.
) Dr. M. Nasser AL-KIDWA
Alternate Permanent Observer
of Palestine to the United Nations
Statement of 23 April 1990 issued in Jerusalem by the Heads of the
Christian Churches and Communities in Jerusalem
Today, Monday, 23 April 1990, we, the Patriarchs, the Custos, the Heads of the Christian Churches and Communities in Jerusalem, have gathered together to consider our response to the extremely grave events that occurred during Holy Week and their enduring consequences.
In the afternoon of 11 April 1990, Wednesday of Holy Week, 150 settlers, many of them armed men, forcibly occupied St. John's Hospice in the heart of the Christian Quarter of the Old City, a 3,000 square-metre property of the Greek Orthodox Partiarchate.
Their action received support from Israeli authorities. It was financed, at least in great part, by the Government, and there have been visits by government ministers and parliamentary authorities to encourage the settlers. Subsequently, it appears that high-level governmental authorities intervened to restrain the police from carrying out judicial eviction orders.
This action occurred towards the culmination of Holy Week and caused grievous disruption to some of the most solemn rites of the Christian religion, at the holiest shrine of Christendom, the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre Church.
This Government-backed settlers' action continues to provoke almost daily violent incidents in and around the area containing the Holy Sepulchre and the centres of church governance, and has occasioned the provocative presence of numerous armed men in the same restricted area. Consequently, freedom of access to the Holy Sepulchre and freedom of worship within it have been threatened.
This act of armed settlement seriously jeopardizes the integrity, cultural and religious autonomy of the Christian, Armenian and Muslim Quarters, in violation of the centuries-old status and character of these quarters of the Holy City, honoured by all previous rulers of Jerusalem, and the international community (and which the Israeli government authorities have repeatedly pledged themselves to uphold).
This action further endangers the survival of all Christian communities in the Holy City.
We, the Heads of Jerusalem's Christian Churches and Communities, unreservedly condemn the actions of the settlers.
We deplore the open support and encouragement it has received from Israeli government quarters.
We demand that the Israeli authorities effect the immediate removal of these settlers and secure the property for its legitimate owners, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
We appeal to the international community, to all churches and religious leaders, and to all people of goodwill throughout the world to give their active support to our call.
We have unanimously decided that:
(a) On Friday, 27 April, all Christian Holy Places in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem and elsewhere in the Holy Land, will close their doors as of 9 a.m. and will not reopen until the following day.
(b) On the same day, all church bells throughout the country will ring a funeral toll every hour on the hour from 9 a.m. until noon.
(c) Sunday, 29 April, shall be a special day of prayer on behalf of the Christian community of Jerusalem, in which we invite all our fellow Christian believers throughout the world to join.
We have decided to remain in an open session to monitor developments in the case.
Jerusalem, 23 April 1990
Signed by the following
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem
Custos of the Holy Land
Coptic Archbishop of Jerusalem
Syrian Archbishop of Jerusalem
Ethiopian Archbishop of Jerusalem
Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem
and President Bishop of Anglican Church
The Greek-Catholic Patriarchal Vicar
The Lutheran Propst of Jerusalem