WCC Executive Committee, Amman, Jordan, 17-23 November 2017

The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Amman, Jordan, on 17-23 November 2017, has heard of the ongoing struggle of the churches of the Holy Land, and particularly of Jerusalem, for the future of their communities and witness in this region.

In particular, the Executive Committee has heard with concern from the heads of the churches in Jerusalem of the ways in which church institutions and properties in Jerusalem are threatened as a result of a combination of contracts of disputed legality, the efforts of radical settler groups, and policies of the Government of Israel.

The Executive Committee expresses its solidarity and support for efforts to retain church ownership and control of properties in Jerusalem, including properties currently under dispute in the Jaffa Gate area, for the future survival of the Christian presence in the region.

The Executive Committee is gravely concerned by legislative initiatives under discussion in the Knesset that would give Israel the authority to override historic ecclesiastical landlord/ownership rights. The Executive Committee calls for such initiatives to be withdrawn. Legislation of this type would jeopardize the future long-term viability of the church and Christian community, in addition to provoking grave political reactions in local contexts.

Initiatives that threaten the delicate historic set of relationships, rights and obligations encompassed in the ‘Status Quo’ arrangements risk further destabilization of the situation in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The Executive Committee calls on the Government of Israel to stop and refrain from any such initiatives that may upset this important foundation for inter-communal relations in the city and region.

The Executive Committee expresses its particular thanks and appreciation to His Majesty King Abdullah II for his efforts as custodian of the Holy Places for both Christians and Muslims, counting on the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s continued diplomatic and practical support in this arena.

Likewise, we express our thanks to HB Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, for his efforts to advocate on these issues and his presence with us to present these concerns on behalf of the heads of churches in Jerusalem.