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To Middle East negotiators in Washington, D.C.

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has sent a message to the Middle East negotiators in Washington to stress the concerns of Palestinian Christians.

02 September 2010

From the blessed city of Jerusalem I bring you greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

When I visit the Palestine and Israel region I carefully listen to the WCC member churches here and to our Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers.

During this visit, the Palestinian Christian cry of faith, hope and love expressed through the Kairos Document has been particularly significant. This document now stands as their proclamation for a just peace in Palestine and Israel, and a call to Christians around the world to join them in solidarity. Now is the time for a just peace. The Christians here pray for that; all peoples here need it desperately. The time of occupation and violence must end.

Equally important on this visit has been listening to the concerns of the local churches here that already has been expressed in their historic statement of 2006 on the final status of Jerusalem. Final negotiations on the status of Jerusalem should involve the heads of the local churches. Palestinian Christians are also concerned about their future here and about their status in Jerusalem. Their residency rights, as is the case with all Palestinians living in Jerusalem, including the basic human right to family life and family reunification, are threatened by severe restrictions currently imposed by the Israeli authorities. This must come to an end so husbands, wives and children may be together as one family.

They are also very much concerned by the discourse about religious identity of states in this region, which they fear will marginalize not only their presence and witness but also that of all Christians elsewhere in the region.

Any debate over the religious composition of a given state is an internal one. However, it should guarantee the principle of equality of all citizens in their rights and duties as human beings.

As the representative of the World Council of Churches and a brother to our fellow Christians in Jerusalem and throughout the Middle East, I pray that there is enough will to make the negotiations successful so that they lead to a just peace. Throughout the region the dignity and integrity of all people will be the highest aspiration of civil society and government.

May the Lord bless your deliberations starting today.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary, World Council of Churches