Statement on the attack on Palestinians of Jerusalem

Friends of Sabeel North America

On Sunday, February 25, church leaders from the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic churches in Jerusalem shut down the Church of the Holy Sepulcher until further notice. They did so in protest of a new municipal law demanding that church leaders pay over $190 million to the state of Israel in back taxes on church properties that were formerly tax exempt.

More information on the new law

The new law is part of an ongoing campaign to target and push out Palestinians in the holy city of Jerusalem. We stand with these church leaders in their boycott of this gross injustice, which is meant to make it more difficult if not impossible for Palestinian Christians to continue to live in Jerusalem. Sacred lands are never for sale. We raise outcry over the mass displacement of all Palestinians, whether Muslim or Christian, from Jerusalem. We support the leadership of the churches in boycotting injustice, and we call on church leaders around the world to follow their lead, heeding international calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions on Israel until it complies with basic standards of international law and ends its decades long campaign to wipe out the indigenous Palestinian population.


Statements From Church Leaders in Jerusalem

FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. POLITICAL PERSECUTION LEADS TO THE CLOSURE OF CHRISTIANITY’S HOLIEST SITE

The leaders of Jerusalem’s churches have today announced the unprecedented decision to close the Church of the Holy Sepulchre until further notice, in protest at persistent moves to intimidate Christians and discriminate against churches in the Holy Land. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which dates back to the fourth century, is considered to contain the sites of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, making it the holiest site in the world for Christians.

The decision to close the Holy Sepulchre comes in response to recent actions by the Jerusalem Municipality and by members of the Israeli Knesset. The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, is attempting to enforce a punitive and retroactive tax on church properties in the Holy City. Furthermore, Knesset member, Rachel Azaria (“Kulanu” party)  is seeking to advance the “Bill of Church Lands”, which would give the Israeli government the power to confiscate church property. These actions contravene the long held Status Quo which is foundational to the guarantee of the churches’ rights and privileges in the Holy Land; and critically undermines the ability of churches to carry out their pastoral mission of housing the community, feeding the poor, caring for refugees, running schools for local children and maintaining the holy sites. Above all, they imperil the continuation of the Christian presence in Jerusalem. 

The closure was announced on Sunday by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Catholic Custos of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarch. Their joint statement argues that ‘the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land’ has ‘reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes.’  The statement also highlights the ‘discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian community in the Holy Land.’ 

Both developments come in a period when Christians are suffering an escalating campaign of intimidation from radical settler groups. Churches face daily desecration and vandalism and Christians are regularly subjected to violent assault as they travel to pray. These groups have long used intimidation, bribery and extreme anti-social behaviour in an attempt to force Christians and other non-Jews out of the Holy City. While their actions clearly contravene Israeli law their crimes go largely unchecked.

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NPR: Israel Bans Activities In Jerusalem Connected To Palestinian Authority Government

You might want to write NPR thanking them and encouraging more coverage that includes Palestinian voices in their stories. NPR has been pro-Israel since the Second Intifada, when their attempt at evenhanded coverage incensed Zionists who threatened a national campaign to withhold donations. — Barbara Olson


All Things Considered, January 19, 2018

Palestinians still have aspirations for a capital in part Jerusalem. National political institutions could strengthen Palestinian claims in the city, but for decades Israel has worked to limit those.

TRANSCRIPT

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital Israel, but that doesn’t change Palestinian aspirations for a capital in part of the city. One thing that could strengthen these Palestinian claims would be national political institutions. NPR’s Daniel Estrin looks at how Israel has worked for decades to limit those institutions, whether they’re offices for leadership or even performances in theaters.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: This used to be the Palestinian headquarters in Jerusalem – an old, stone mansion called the Orient House. Foreign diplomats were received here. The Palestinian flag used to fly. But Israel closed it in 2001 during a wave of Palestinian bombings. Israeli authorities deliver a new closure order every six months. It’s on the door for everyone to see.

And they just…

ISHAQ BUDEIRI: Yes.

ESTRIN: …Put it right here on the door.

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Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Shared Injustice, Shared Struggle
on International Day of Solidarity

Claire Gilbert, Grassroots International, November 28, 2017

November 29th is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. These days, the global Palestinian solidarity movement has deepened and grown with powerful expressions of joint struggle with other movements around the world.

A few weeks ago in over 30 countries worldwide people participated in a series of global actions for a #WorldwithoutWalls. Analysis from Grassroots International’s partner Stop the Wall Campaign reveals shocking statistics about the grim proliferation of walls globally:

“Who would have thought in 2002 when Israel started building its apartheid Wall that today we would have nearly 70 walls around the world built to militarise borders or to annex occupied lands? Who would have thought it possible that exactly one year ago Donald Trump won the presidential elections by promising a Wall?

Walls are key elements in today’s racist policies aimed against migrants, including refugees, to criminalise and keep them out or kill them. Walls are ever more pervasive in cities and societies to segregate, control and repress. Ideologies of hatred and supremacy are growing together with these walls and the profits of an entire industry of walls, fear and exclusion are rising exponentially. By 2022, the border security market is expected to rise to $52.95 billion globally.”

Stop the Wall Campaign is a Grassroots International partner in Palestine focused on stopping and dismantling the Wall in the West Bank, resisting Israeli occupation, and defending Palestinian communities’ rights to land and water.

The #WorldwithoutWalls actions included new chances for shared struggle as a delegation from the US, Mexico and Palestine traveled from Oaxaca to Nogales at the US/Mexico border as part of an International Caravan, while a delegation of activists from Mexico and the US traveled to the West Bank.

Our allies at the Border Agricultural Project and our partner La Via Campesina shared this statement:

“Sunday, November 5th, 2017 – From the border of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, United States, La Vía Campesina, its members participating in the V International Meeting on Migration and Wage Labour, its guests and allies, the academic and public institutions that accompanied the encounter as well as the border community, we send you a fraternal message of solidarity to all migrants and people suffering walls of apartheid; and we tell you that you are not alone, that from November 2 to 5 we have met on this border to make a commitment to fight with all our conviction for the full human rights of all migrants and border people and against the current anti-migrant attacks by bad governments, against the walls of exclusion, violence and criminalization for the mere fact of being migrants or border people.”

And they shared a photo (at the top of this blog) of Juslene Tyresias, a leader of Grassroots International’s partner the Peasant Movement of Papaye in Haiti, speaking out against the US/Mexico wall. Several other partners of Grassroots International are shown including the Association of Rural Workers in Nicaragua.

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What’s The Deal With Jerusalem, Anyway?

 
Sana Saeed, AJ+, June 11, 2017

Jerusalem is arguably the most contentious city in history. From the Crusades to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, a lot of civilizations and peoples have tried to claim the land. But the recent history of Jerusalem has made the city more than just contentious – it’s made it one of the greatest symbols of modern conflict, at the heart of the 50-year-long Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Learn more here:
• United Nations, “The Plan of Partition and the End of the British Mandate”
• Al Jazeera America, “Who Owns Jerusalem?”
• Time, “Why Jerusalem Isn’t Viewed as Israel’s Capital”

The Palestinian Right to Jerusalem Is an International Law that Cannot Be Taken Away

Position Paper: A Grant of Recognition from those who do not own to those who do not deserve

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), December 7, 2017

Baflour Declaration Recurs
In a dangerous precedent that violates the international law, on Wednesday, the US President, Donald Trump, declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the American Embassy will be removed to it, signing an order of this.  The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the irresponsible statements by the US President and emphasizes that Jerusalem’s legal status as part of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) codified in the international law according to the resolutions adopted by the UN and International Court of Justice (ICJ) and recognition of an overwhelming majority of the world’s States. 154 States voted in favor of recognizing the state of Palestine on the territory occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem.

PCHR believes that the declaration represents granting recognition from those who do not own to those who do not deserve as if the history repeats itself to bring out a new “Balfour Declaration in the centennial of the old declaration but by an American tongue this time.  PCHR stresses that the Palestinian right to Jerusalem is an international law that cannot be changed by political statements and measures, adding that the declaration convicts its issuer, making him a criminal at the international level and a big shame to the free world.

PCHR emphasizes that Trump’s declaration explicitly violates the international law, Security Council Resolutions, and Geneva Conventions, and constitutes two crimes.  The first crime is a crime of aggression against the Palestinian State as the declaration supports and upholds the annexation of lands using force.  The second crime is a war crime as the declaration is considered as a complicity in the Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including Jerusalem.

In his comment, Lawyer Raji Sourani, PCHR’s Director, said that, “This decision is an explicit call for imposing the rule of jungle and de facto policy in addition to completely flouting the international law and UN’s role… This declaration also gives political legitimacy for the Israeli crimes and affects the history, present and future of the Palestinian people.”

This development came in light of the current US administration’s systematic policy of denying the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and attempting to close down the Palestinian cause.  This policy started with supporting the settlement expansion, which was explicitly expressed by the American administration in many events, through being deliberately silent to condemn it or through frankly speaking that settlements belong to Israel and denying they are an occupied territory. In addition, the huge pressures practiced by the US on the UN Bodies, Intentional Criminal Court (ICC) and the Palestinian leadership to deprive the Palestinians of resorting to the International Justice.  This was a position expressed by the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, when she said that, “the days of Israel bashing at the UN are over.”  And finally, the Us Administration’s aggression on the Palestinian territory came to end practically the Peace efforts and the two-state solution.

It should be mentioned that 13 States had embassies in Jerusalem until 1970s without recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  However, the US was not among those States as it only had a Consulate in Jerusalem that refers to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.  Those 13 States then moved their embassies from Jerusalem to other cities in Israel, especially following the Security Council’s Resolutions No. 476 and 478, which both condemn Israel’s attempted annexation of Jerusalem.

It is noteworthy that the US Congress recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 1995, and the US President recommended in his decision at that time to issue an official declaration to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  Since then, the US Presidents continued to delay the embassy move until today when the US President Trump dared to issue the declaration in violation of the international law and disregard for the international peace and life of many innocents that would be endangered due to provoking feelings of millions of Muslims and Christians around the world.

Explicit Violation of UN Resolutions

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November 6, 2017
Jerusalem on the Moving Edge of Colonial Rule


Tom Philip Abowd
Tufts University
206 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Drive
UW-Madison
12 noon – 1:00 pm

This Middle East Studies presentation will analyze how colonialism and colonial urbanism remain a crucial component of contemporary Palestinian and Israeli realities.

It seeks to illuminate everyday life as well as the broader institutional forces that comprise and enable Israeli urban policy in Jerusalem. What kinds of barriers—physical, legal, and discursive—operate to keep Israeli-occupied Jerusalem a city of immense separation and inequality?

The lecture will also address some of the multiple expressions of anti-racism and resistance to colonial and military rule in the city most contested by Palestinians and Israelis since 1948.

Condemn, don’t celebrate, 50 years of occupation of Palestine

Barbara Olson, The Cap Times, Jun 11, 2017


Palestinian workers wait to cross the Israeli checkpoint of Al-Jalameh, south of the West Bank city of Jenin, on their way to work in Israel May 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

June 2017 marks 50 years of Israeli military occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. In 1967, in open defiance of international law prohibiting acquisition of territory by force, Israel began settling its own Jewish population on occupied Palestinian land, seizing large swathes of the most valuable, fertile and resource-rich areas.

For 50 years this dispossession has been enforced by a violent regime of military occupation, a regime that has expanded and deepened until many argue that it now meets or exceeds the legal definition of apartheid — a system of laws, institutions and practices that treat people differently based on race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

For the last 70 years, Israel has also denied millions of Palestinian refugees their right under international law to return to the homes and properties from which they were ethnically cleansed from 1947 onward. In contrast, Israel’s “Law of Return” gives automatic citizenship rights to any Jewish person from anywhere in the world.

Those Palestinians who refused to flee after the Israeli state was declared in 1948 spent years living under martial law before gaining Israeli citizenship. Now making up at least 20 percent of Israel’s population, they face dozens of discriminatory laws that privilege Israeli Jews.

A special mention must be made of Gaza. While Israeli soldiers and settlements were withdrawn in 2005, Israel exercises “effective control” over Gaza’s borders, coastal waters and airspace, making it the occupying power under international law. For 10 years it has enforced a suffocating and deadly blockade of Gaza, condemned by the UN as an inhumane act of collective punishment of nearly 2 million civilians, half of them children. Devastating Israeli military assaults in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014 killed thousands of civilians and deliberately destroyed Gaza’s civilian infrastructure.

U.S. political, military and financial support makes this possible. Republican and Democratic administrations have given lip service to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, calling the settlements and occupation “obstacles to peace.” In reality, they envision not two equal states side by side, but disconnected, fragmented and nonviable “Bantustans” for Palestinians under permanent Israeli control.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is underwriting Israel’s abuses of Palestinians and the massive expansion of the Jewish-only settlements that long ago killed the possibility for any two-state solution. U.S. taxpayers already give Israel more than $3 billion in weapons like F-16 (and now F-35) fighter jets, Apache helicopter gunships, Caterpillar bulldozers, the Iron Dome, and more each year. This was before President Obama agreed to give Israel another $38 billion in weapons over the next decade. And before the election of Donald Trump, who has enthusiastically aligned himself with Netanyahu and the most racist and militaristic elements of Israeli society.

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BREAKING: Trump Signs Waiver, But Senate Wants Embassy in Jerusalem

Josh Ruebner, U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 1 June 2017

Breaking news: Donald Trump has backed off one of his major campaign pledges and signed a waiver to the Jerusalem Embassy Act to keep the US Embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv for another six months.

For the time being, Trump is upholding a long-standing, bipartisan policy of not recognizing any nation’s claims to sovereignty in Jerusalem.

While Trump has realized that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem at this point would be a mistake, the Senate has other ideas.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced S.Res.176, a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of what it terms Israel’s “reunification of Jerusalem.” And he’ll be bringing it up for a vote next Monday, June 5.

Click here to find out if your Senators have sponsored this legislation and contact them to register your opposition.

Not only does S.Res.176 call on the president to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. It also celebrates the fact that Israel has held East Jerusalem under military occupation for the past half-century and ignores Israel’s violations of international law—its construction of settlements and a wall, its expropriation of Palestinian property and demolition of Palestinian homes—there.

It makes patently false claims that all people enjoy freedom of worship in Jerusalem under Israeli administration when Palestinians from other parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip do not have the ability to pray at their holy sites in Jerusalem without a permit, which is often difficult or nearly impossible to obtain.

The resolution also fails to mention the separate-and-unequal status that Palestinian Jerusalemites face under Israel’s regime. Even though Israel annexed East Jerusalem, a move which even the United States refuses to recognize, Palestinian residents are not citizens of Israel and can’t vote for its parliament. Israel often regularly revokes Palestinians’ residency rights in the city as part of a plan to engineer a favorable demographic balance. And Palestinians face systematic discrimination from the municipality in the allocation of building permits and funds for schools, health care, sanitation and other services.

Click here to contact your Senators about this resolution (and your Representative about a similar one in the House which may also come up for a vote next week).

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