Bridging the Gap Report: Palestinian Christians Existence in Jerusalem Threatened
Church of all the Nations, St. Mary Magdalene in occupied
BPNIC Staff, 12/11/2007 Like their Muslim compatriots,
Palestinian Christians living under Israeli occupation in
occupied Eastern Jerusalem are being harmed due to
Jewish majority policy.
The Israeli government has a policy
of maintaining the Jewish majority in occupied Eastern
Jerusalem by a ratio of 73.5% to 26.5%, which is threatening
Palestinian Christians existence in the city.
Occupied Eastern Jerusalem became a part of what Israel
refers to as Greater Jerusalem or United Jerusalem after it
annexed it from the Arabs in 1967. Today, occupied Eastern
Jerusalem is under Israeli civilian administration,
considerably different from the military administration that
governs the occupied territories of the West Bank. Israel
does not consider the Eastern sector of Jerusalem to be part
of the West Bank and as a result is under full Israeli law
Israel is attempting to change the character and status of Jerusalem before a
Palestinian state is created, and although a number of United Nations
resolutions have condemned Israel for its attempt to combine the Eastern and
Western sectors of the city, Israel has ignored them all and continues to expand
its illegal colonies in the Eastern sector.
The Palestinian Christian population living in Jerusalem's occupied Eastern
sector has decreased both absolutely and proportionately due to the Israeli
Jewish majority policy.
According to a 2005 statistical study conducted by the
Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, occupied Eastern Jerusalem has a 3%
Christian population, comprising 92% of the Christian population of both the
Eastern and Western sectors of Jerusalem.
The number of Christians today makes up just over 2% of the
entire population of the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, compared
to 20% of the total population of Palestine before the creation of the Israeli
state in 1948. Out of the 750,000 Palestinians that were forced from their
homes in 1948, 50,000 were Christians, making up 7% of the total number of
refugees and 35% of the total number of Christians living in the occupied
Palestinian territories today.
The existence of Palestinian Christians in Eastern
Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza is of central concern to the Brazilian
Palestinian National Interest Committee. Palestinian Christians are an integral
part of the Palestinian people, and they are a vital part to the Palestinian
struggle and Palestine's future resurrection. Palestinian Christians today
share the same endless misery as all other Palestinian refugees, confined to
overcrowded refugee camps, where their dwellings are broken down, and sanitary
conditions are horrendous.
The committee views the Israeli policy of maintaining a
majority Jewish policy in Eastern Jerusalem and the colony expansion policy that
effectively implements it as a strong indication for a
lack of religious tolerance on the part of the Israeli government.
The committee’s consistent positions are aligned with the
Palestinian National Authority’s policy on the road to govern Gaza and the West Bank
with Eastern Jerusalem as part of a future state by separating between religion
and state, which Israel does not put into practice today. Examples of state
religion in Israel are evident in the flag, national anthem, immigration Law of
Return policy, and the declaration of independence.
The committee applauds the Brazilian Ministry of External
Relations for their efforts to continue making statements to secure the way for
a Palestinian state, with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital. A Palestinian state
created through justice, solidarity, peace and reconciliation.
The Brazilian Palestinian National Interest Committee is
a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to work with the
legislative body of Brazil on legislation that strengthens the relationship
between Brazil and Palestinians.