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Jerusalem church leaders warn against changing city’s status quo

By JT - Jul 21,2017 - Last updated at Jul 21,2017

AMMAN — Heads of churches in Jerusalem on Thursday warned against any changes to the historical status quo in Jerusalem as the city continues to witness tensions.

In a statement, a copy of which was e-mailed to The Jordan Times, an array of Christian leaders, led by Patriarch Theophilos III of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, expressed “serious concern regarding recent escalation in violent developments around [Al Haram Al Sharif] and our grief for the loss of human life, and strongly condemn any act of violence”.

The tension followed a shootout between Palestinian armed men and occupation forces near the compound, resulting in the death of three Palestinians, from 1948 Palestine, and two Israeli soldiers. Israel closed down Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif and before opening it, it imposed strict security measures that were rejected by Palestinians and their supporters. 

“We are worried about any change to the historical situation [status quo] at Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif and its courtyard, and in the holy city of Jerusalem. Any threat to its continuity and integrity could easily lead to serious and unpredictable consequences, which would be most unwelcome in the present tense religious climate,” the statement said. 

The church leaders value the custodianship of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Al Aqsa Mosque and the holy places in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, “which guarantees the right for all Muslims to free access and worship to Al Aqsa Mosque according to the prevailing status quo.”

The statement concluded with renewing the call that “the historical status quo governing these sites be fully respected, for the sake of peace and reconciliation to the whole community, and we pray for a just and lasting peace in the whole region and all its peoples”. 

Signatories also included Patriarch Nourhan Manougian of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Fr. Francesco Patton, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land, Archbishop Anba Antonious of Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem, Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Archbishop Aba Embakob of Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate’s Archbishop Mosa El Hage, Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

Also among the signatories were Bishop Pierre Malki of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate and Msgr. Georges Dankaye’ of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate. 

In a related development, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Thursday during a phone call discussed the latest developments in Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif situation with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. 

Safadi warned of the consequences of the continuing tension that must be dealt with by Israel’s respect for the historical and legal status of Jerusalem’s holy places. He renewed a demand for full and immediate opening of Al Aqsa Mosque to worshippers and the cancellation of all the one-sided steps taken by Israel. 

He stressed that the Kingdom is exerting intensive efforts led by His Majesty King Abdullah to restore calm and end the crisis in a manner that guarantees security, stability and respect for Israel.

 

He stressed the need for common efforts by the international community to end the escalation by working to remove the causes of tension represented by Israel’s actions. 

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