The Palestinian president extended words of gratitude to al the churches for their ongoing support for Palestinian people. “We are one people,” said Abbas. “All churches are all our holy places.”
Abbas noted that Jerusalem is a holy city for three religions. “A city for all and with space for all,” he said. “The occupation must come to an end and we have to coexist as neighbours and friends,” he said.
Abbas concluded: “Come and visit us. Come and see. We need the solidarity from the churches worldwide.”
Sauca, underscoring the president’s reflections, said that the role of churches is to give witness to the world and work for justice and peace. He described the WCC’s peace and reconciliation initiatives in the Middle East and beyond.
Sauca noted: “We believe peace can be achieved only together with the other. We are called as a fellowship of churches to support the process of just peace.”
He added: “We believe and see that the local churches can and do play a role in promoting peace and justice on both sides of the conflict. It is important to strengthen the church and the Christian presence in the area, so that it can be a strong witness of peace.
“No people should be denied their rights and, certainly, no people should be denied their rights for generations,” Sauca continued.
“The unresolved conflict in Israel and Palestine is primarily about justice, and until the requirement of justice is met, peace cannot be established,” he added. “As Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza nears the 55-year mark, generations have been suffering under this reality.”
Through the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), the WCC continues to provide, since 2002, a sense of peaceful security for children on their daily walk to school.
This year marks EAPPI’s 20th anniversary, and over those two decades, WCC member churches have recruited over 1,800 Ecumenical Accompaniers from 25 countries to serve 3-month terms in placements around the West Bank.
Sauca was accompanied in the meeting by Dr Audeh Quawas, member of the WCC executive committee; Marianne Ejdersten, WCC director communication; and Yusef Daher, coordinator of the Jerusalem Liaison Office.