Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - On the occasion of Barack Obama’s visit in the Middle East - which began today, Wednesday, March 20 with the arrival in Israel - the Commission "Justice and Peace" of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land has written to the U.S. President a letter to draw his attention on some major problems that affect the presence of Christians in the region.
"The Palestinian people - reads the letter signed on behalf of the Commission by its Secretary Yusef Daher sent to Fides - is living its 46th year under occupation. And the plight of Palestinian Christians is the same as experienced by the Palestinian people as a whole. "
The letter lists what are called "violations of the international law by the Israeli authorities": expansion of illegal settlements of settlers; restriction of access to the holy places for Christians and Muslims; expropriation of land belonging to Palestinian owners to favor expansion of the colonies and to build the separation barrier. The letter of Justice and Peace explicitly cites the story of the Cremisan Valley, which has also become a court case, since Christian families and Catholic religious congregations have appealed against the seizure of their lands on where the route of the separation wall had to go.
The message aimed at Obama also describes what he calls "hidden policies of discrimination" suffered by Arab citizens of Israel: lengthy procedures to obtain family reunification, difficulty in registering children, problems in finding a home and job opportunities. In his letter to the U.S. President what is pointed out is that "the Christian presence plays an important role in Holy Land in the field of education and health care." The disappearance of Christian communities in that area, "will have catastrophic consequences especially with the growth of the fundamentalists on both sides."
The appeal ends with a request to promote respect for international law and put a stop to all illegal policies affecting the Palestinian population of Holy Land. "This - writes the Justice and Peace Commission related to the local Catholic Bishops – is the best way to preserve and protect the Christian presence in Holy Land." (GV) (Agenzia Fides 20/03/2013)