Jerusalem, December 23, 2018
Statement by the Heads of Churches in the Holy Land following attempts to damage the Christian community on the eve of Christmas
On Thursday, Members of the Knesset once again proposed to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation the discriminatory bill which restricts the rights of Christian institutions to deal with their property and threatens the income that sustains the Church’s humanitarian mission and care of Holy Sites. It is now the 5th time that this legislation has been tabled by the committee. However the timing of this latest attempt, just days before the celebration of Christ’s birth, was an intentional act of grave insensitivity. At a time when more than a billion Christians commit themselves to faith, hope and reconciliation and prepare to welcome Christ as the Prince of Peace, it is hard to explain such a stark and cynical action.
We are thankful to the firm support of our friends worldwide, who in spite of the inconvenient timing, rushed immediately for our assistance and we are sure that their support will not fail in case this legislation should be pushed forward again. We recognize the gracious intervention of President Reuven Rivlin and the wise approach of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their guarantees that this discriminatory bill will be withdrawn immediately. This action is consistent with the Prime Minister’s commitments to preserve the long-standing “Status Quo” and welcome Christians from around the world.
While thankful for this reprieve, we are deeply concerned that attempts to bring this legislation forward will continue. We shall therefore remain actively seized of the matter, refusing to compromise on our basic rights and convinced that this Bill has no place in the corpus of legislation of the State of Israel. We reiterate our readiness for dialogue, yet at the same time we stand united and resolute in our rejection to unilateral actions that undermine our very existence in this Holy Land.
At Christmas time, the Churches wait with great hope and expectation. Together with our brothers and sisters around the world we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and look forward to the good news that “The night is far spent and the day is at hand.” (Rom 13:12).