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24 Mar, 2013

Outrage as Israelis Deny Christians Access to Jerusalem in Holy Week


RAMALLAH, March 24, 2013 (WAFA) – Member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee Hanan Ashrawi, on the holy occasion of Palm Sunday and beginning of the Holy Week in Jerusalem, spoke of her outrage at the increasing denial of entry to Jerusalem for Palestinian Christians, saying “there should not even be a question of needing permits to visit one’s own city.”

In a press release, Ashrawi said that early reports indicate that Palestinian Christian communities from the northern West Bank had to cancel their Palm Sunday celebrations in Jerusalem due to a lack of Israeli-issued permits.

Several scout groups are also unable to participate in the celebrations for the same reason. Parishes from the Bethlehem and Ramallah areas received between 30% and 40% of the permits they requested from the occupation authorities, the release added.

It said that since occupying East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has forcibly denied millions of Palestinians and Arabs the right to access East Jerusalem, issuing limited numbers of permits for some holy events.

Ashrawi expressed deep frustration at the worsening of the situation this year. “This is a religious and national occasion, a time for collective worship and celebration. The fact that so many Palestinian Christian communities are denied their simple human right to worship freely in their own capital city is unacceptable.”

She said “East Jerusalem is the occupied capital of the Palestinian people and freedom of worship is a basic human right for all of our Christian and Muslim citizens; a right which is being systematically and increasingly denied by a foreign occupying force.”

Ashrawi called upon those who are able to be in Jerusalem for Palm Sunday, especially “dearly welcomed pilgrims and tourists from outside of Palestine” to “represent their Christian brothers and sisters who live only a few kilometers away, and who are cruelly denied the opportunity to partake in this important occasion.”