Palestinian clergy: ‘Annexation could be the final straw for a viable Christian presence in Palestine’

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An icon of Mary is painted on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. (photo: Rrodrickbeiler / Dreamstime.com)
A July letter from Palestinian clergy address crisis of Christian emigration.

By Jeff Wright  |  Mondoweiss  | Aug 20, 2020

‘As any Palestinian—Christian or Muslim—will tell you, it is the Israeli occupation that is making life unbearable for Muslims and Christians alike,’
— Rev. Alex Awad, former pastor of the East Jerusalem Baptist Church 

“Annexation could be the final straw when it comes to a viable Christian presence in Palestine,” declare pastors representing four of the Holy Land’s historic denominations. “For Palestine, Bethlehem and particularly its Christian population… annexation will be particularly catastrophic.”

The July letter sent to diplomatic missions in Palestine/Israel—later released as an Open Letter—denounces Israel’s threatened annexation and calls upon the leaders of the world to “stop this severe injustice.” Written by clergy serving seven Christian congregations in Bethlehem and the neighboring towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, the letter continues, “This is land theft! We are talking about land that is largely privately owned and that our families have owned, inherited and farmed for hundreds of years.”

Munther Isaac, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Academic Dean of Bethlehem Bible College, and one of the missive’s cosigners, says, “The letter came from pastoral needs; we had to speak for our congregants. This is about the future of our community.”

In spite of the recent agreement between Israel and the UAE, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu maintains that plans for annexation are merely on hold. Of the almost thirty missions receiving the letter, only two have responded to acknowledge its receipt, Australia and Slovenia.

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