Christian leaders call for ‘permits’ boycott
Bethlehem – Leaders of the Christian community in Palestine called on church officials to begin a boycott of the Israeli permission system, requiring leaders to request permits for their faithful to access the holy city of Jerusalem.
Speaking on the radio Mawwal show Juthurna (Our Roots) on Tuesday, Fatah official of religious affairs Mike Salman said the entire Israeli system of forcing Palestinians to request permissions to access Palestinian territory illegally annexed by Israel is “an offense to human dignity.”
Under international law and conventions, he added, “Jerusalem is part of the 1967 lands and we Muslims and Christians should be able to reach it without permits,” and called on Christians to support their church leaders in a campaign to halt the permit system.
“We should have one clear and consistent position about permits, for permits offend the dignity of humanity, we must not give in to the occupation’s policy,” Salman said.
Jack Khozmo, the editor-in-chief of Jerusalem’s political magazine Al-Bayader said boycotts by Christians should be backed up by resistance from the Jerusalem community. Already, he said, popular resistance forced Israeli forces to back off restrictions rumored for the Easter celebrations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with tens of Palestinian Christians gaining entry to the building.
The editor agreed that Christian patriarchs should take a firm position on the permissions policy, saying “freedom of worship is a sacred right and people should not have to request this right from anyone.”
President of Global Movement for Defense of Children and coordinator of the Kairos Palestine initiative, Rif’at Qassis, further backed up the position, calling on church leaders to shut the doors of churches and forbid all pilgrims from entering if Palestinians are not granted free access to the religious sites.
“The Kairos Palestine document assures the rights of worship and freedom for all the religions in the holy places and demands that individuals should not struggle in order to pray in a church,” Qassis said of an initiative by Christian Palestinians to end the occupation of Palestine.
According to organizers of the initiative, “Palestinian Christians declare that the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity, and that any theology that legitimizes the occupation is far from Christian teachings because true Christian theology is a theology of love and solidarity with the oppressed, a call to justice and equality among peoples.”
Qassis said that the world and the heads of churches should refuse the idea of permits and that everyone should go to the military checkpoints and demand for their natural right to enter Jerusalem to pray in Al-Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
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