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19 Apr, 2014

Palestinian Christians Urge International Community to Ensure Access to Jerusalem during Easter

JERUSALEM, April 17, 2014 (WAFA) – The Civic National Commission in Jerusalem, in an open letter, urged the international community to ensure that Palestinian Christians will have free access to places of worship in occupied East Jerusalem during this year’s Easter holidays.

The Civic National Commission reiterated the call of Palestinian Christian institutions issued on 9 April for international protection that will result in the removal of all Israeli roadblocks, checkpoints and other measures that obstruct access to churches in and around the Old City and deprive Christians of their right to freedom of movement and worship.

Outraged by the manner in which Israeli occupation authorities had undermined these rights during previous Easter holidays and in light of the refusal of the Israeli police to compromise, Palestinian Christian institutions petitioned the Israeli high court in March, requesting instructions to the police to abstain from all forms of harassment, including road blocks, checkpoints and permits. The court decided to postpone its decision, urging the parties to reach an agreement by 10 April.

As of 13 April, Palm Sunday, no agreement has been reached with the Israeli police and no decision has been issued by the court.

The Civic National Commission is a forum of 11 Palestinian Civil Society and community Networks, Coalitions and Unions, working to defend the rights of East Jerusalem’s vulnerable Palestinian communities.

Said the letter, “As such, we are profoundly familiar with the myriad of oppressive Israeli measures that systematically undermine Palestinian rights and livelihoods in the occupied city.

” We share the assessment of Atty. Ass’ad Mazawwi, representative of the Orthodox institutions in court: “the Israeli policy of harassment against Palestinian Christians during Easter has nothing do to with security. It is purely motivated by political interest, i.e., the intention to affirm the situation of Israeli-Jewish domination in occupied East Jerusalem that has been created through gross and systematic violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. “

“We call upon the international community, in particular diplomatic missions, to ensure that Israeli authorities respect their legal obligations and create the conditions that allow Palestinian Christians to celebrate Easter in occupied East Jerusalem, freely and in dignity.”