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WCC reiterates plea for dialogue and open access to worship at Holy Sites

WCC reiterates plea for dialogue and open access to worship at Holy Sites

Photo: Sean Hawkey/WCC

22 July 2017

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling for global prayers tomorrow for just peace in the Holy Land, and for all barriers to places of worship to be removed.

The WCC is again joining with church leaders in Jerusalem in making an urgent plea for peace and dialogue between Israeli authorities and Palestinians. Their plea comes in the context of spiralling violence in response to security measures imposed restricting access to Holy Sites in the city, following a recent attack in which two Israeli security officers were killed.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, said, “We pray and plead for both sides in this precarious situation to try to talk with one another and find a solution for unfettered access to the places of worship for all believers in the city and region that can allow peace to prevail. This is the only way forward to halt the violence and to promote coexistence at a time of particularly high tensions.”

“The WCC had previously warned that measures impinging on the continuity and integrity of access to the Holy Sites could easily lead to serious, unpredictable and unwelcome consequences in the present dangerously tense climate. Unfortunately, the correctness of this warning is being confirmed.  To avoid further escalation of violence, the electric gates infringing on the rights of worshippers to access the Holy Sites must be removed” said Tveit.

In the latest developments, news agencies reported that three Israelis were stabbed to death in a settlement on the night of 21 July near the Palestinian town of Ramallah, after three Palestinians had been killed and 200 injured in East Jerusalem and the West Bank on the same day.

The recent violence started when three Arab-Israelis shot dead two Israeli police officers just outside Al-Aqsa mosque compound on 14 July, but tensions soared over the security restrictions subsequently imposed by Israel on access to the compound, seen by many Palestinians as a threat to the delicate web of arrangements reflected in the historical Status Quo.

WCC urges the churches of the world to unite in a global prayer tomorrow for a just and peaceful solution in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Tveit concluded: “The WCC is monitoring the evolving situation with great sadness and concern.”

“We stand in solidarity with Muslims, Jews and Christians, and we pray that justice and peace will prevail, not only this week but in the weeks, months and years to come.”

Pastoral Letter to Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, 22 July, 2017

WCC joins Jerusalem church leaders' plea for continuous free access to worship at Holy Sites, WCC press release 20 July, 2017

WCC condemns attack in Jerusalem, WCC press release 14 July, 2017

WCC in solidarity with member churches in the Middle East