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.

Statement on Municipal threats and the discriminatory “Church Lands Bill” 25.02.2018

We, the heads of Churches in charge of the Holy Sepulcher and the Status Quo governing the various Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem – the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Custody of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarchate – are following with great concern the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the existing Status Quo.

Recently, this systematic and offensive campaign 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. A step that is contrary to the historic position of the Churches within the Holy City of Jerusalem and their relationship with the civil authorities. These actions breach existing agreements and international obligations which guarantee the rights and the privileges of the Churches, in what seems as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem. The greatest victims in this are those impoverished families who will go without food and housing, as well as the children who will be unable to attend school.

The systematic campaign of abuse against Churches and Christians reaches now its peak as a discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian community in the Holy Land is being promoted. This abhorrent bill is set to advance today in a meeting of a ministerial committee which if approved would make the expropriation of the lands of churches possible. This reminds us all of laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during dark periods in Europe.

This systematic and unprecedented attack against Christians in the Holy Land severely violates the most basic, ab antiquo and sovereign rights, trampling on the delicate fabric of relations between the Christian community and the authorities for decades.

THEREFORE, and recalling the Statement of the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem, dated 14 February, 2018 and their previous statement of September 2017, as a measure of protest, we decided to take this unprecedented step of closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Together with all Heads of Churches in the Holy Land we stand united, firm and resolute in protecting our rights and our properties.

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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.

BUDEIRI: Put it right here and go.

ESTRIN: Ishaq Budeiri heads the Arab Studies Society, which was based in the same building. His library of historical archives is locked inside. He has no access. I give the dusty windows a spit shine and peer in.

Oh, I see some books on the shelf.

BUDEIRI: Yeah, yeah, yeah, newspapers.

ESTRIN: Budeiri says Israeli authorities made him an offer, which he refused.

BUDEIRI: One time they said to us you can come and take your books, your archives, and go outside Jerusalem. They don’t want to see any Palestinian institution in Jerusalem.

ESTRIN: Palestinian leaders want to establish a capital in East Jerusalem, but Israel captured that part of the city 50 years ago. Under an agreement between the two sides in the ’90s, the Palestinian government doesn’t have jurisdiction in Jerusalem. Israel says it allows Palestinian social, educational and economic institutions in the city, but it prevents any political activity there by the Palestinians’ national movement, the PLO, or the Palestinian Authority, which governs in the nearby West Bank.

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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.

Jamal Juma, Coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign shared:

“The rising number of physical walls around the globe, many of them inspired or built by Israeli technology, are the symbolic centerpiece in a world full of visible and invisible walls of injustice.

As Palestinians we don’t only feel, we are, directly connected to all those struggling against walls of injustice. Israel promotes its ideology of apartheid, colonialism and war as well as the technologies to implement them globally.

We are determined not only to tear down Israel’s apartheid Wall but to join hands with all those that resist walls of injustice.”

You can listen to powerful testimony of the joint struggle against walls in this video: https://www.facebook.com/stop.the.wall.campaign/videos/1527201174037767/

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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

The Security Council issued 12 resolutions that emphasize Jerusalem is a territory occupied by the Israeli authorities.  Eight of them stipulate that all measures and changes in the legal status of the city are not lawful and the Israeli forces shall be withdrawn from it.  The four other resolutions call upon Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem. The first of them was the Security Council’s Resolution 242.

Of those resolutions directly relevant to Jerusalem is the Security Council’s Resolution 476 in 1980 that Calls upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, emphasizing any change to the status and character of Jerusalem has no legal validity.

In the same year, Resolution 478 was adopted to condemn Israel’s Basic Law which declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s “complete and united” capital, constituting a violation of international law and not affecting the continued application of the Geneva Convention on the City as an occupied territory.  The Resolution also condemned all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.

One of the latest and most prominent resolutions condemning settlements in the oPt, including Jerusalem, was Resolution 2334 in 2016, which states that Israeli settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity” in addition to undermining the peace process and two-state solution.  The Resolution also calls upon all States to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.  It is noteworthy that this Resolution passed in a 14–0 vote by members of the UN Security Council with the US abstention.  This Resolution is considered the fifth of its kind affirming and condemns Israel’s commission of the settlement activity crime.

In its Advisory Opinion on the Annexation wall in 2004, the ICJ affirms that the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including Jerusalem, are occupied territories according to the international law.  On this basis, the ICJ’s Resolution came to affirm that the wall has no legal validity as it cuts off parts of the Palestinian territory.

The General Assembly also adopted many resolutions affirming that Israel has no right to Jerusalem as it is an occupying power. The first of these resolutions was Resolution 303 in 1949, which condemns Israel’s declaration of Jerusalem as its capital.

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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.