Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem call for peace process to continue

In this year’s Easter Message, the heads of local Christian Churches sent out an appeal for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Meanwhile, tensions have risen since the killing of a police chief in Hebron.

“Despite the acute difficulties of the current situation, we would urge all parties to seize this moment of historic opportunity.” In their Easter Message for 2014, the heads of Jerusalem’s Churches took the opportunity to urge Israelis and Palestinians once again, not to shut the door on peace negotiations. Their words sound a lot like an urgent appeal, given the profound pessimism surrounding the peace talks that have been taking place in recent weeks, mediated by US Secretary of State, John Kerry.

There is a sense of resignation in Jerusalem after talks proved inconclusive once again and this climate is causing violence to erupt: on Monday evening police Deputy Major General Baruch Mizrahi was shot dead in Hebron as he and his family were going to a seder, a Jewish Passover meal. In Israeli media the controversy is escalating in light of the discussions over the release of Palestinian prisoners. This is one of the sticking points of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The widow of the latest victim openly addressed Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that “no terrorists can be released while new families are being hit.”

This is the context in which the heads of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem – the Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III, the Armenian Patriarch Norhan Manougian and the Custodian of the Holy Land Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa – made their appeal, pushing for a continuation in negotiations. In fact, they are asking parties to go beyond mere sterile discussions in order to address the injustices that are at the root of this seemingly never-ending conflict: “we would urge all parties to seize this moment of historic opportunity. A peace which does not seek to abolish discrimination between different communities is no peace at all. For peace to be real, it must embrace justice and a desire for reconciliation. Reconciliation between God and humanity, and between people who are opposed to one another, springs from the Cross and is vindicated by the Resurrection,” they write.