HCEF delivered a letter protesting a recent Israeli communication to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem. The HCEF protest called on the Department of State to challenge the Israel action, which interferes with freedom of religion.
Calling on Robert Seiple, ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom in the State Department on May 16, Mr. Rateb Rabie, president of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) delivered a letter protesting a recent Israeli communication to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem. The HCEF protest called on the Department of State to challenge the Israel action, which interferes with freedom of religion. Ambassador Seiple assured Mr. Rabie and those accompanying him from HCEF that he would pass on the protest letter to Secretary Albright and that the State Department would look into the facts of the matter and provide a response to HCEF. The Israeli action being protested by HCEF was in the form of a letter written by the Israeli Ministry for Religious Affairs dated May 3 to His Beatitude Diodoros I, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem, which complained about statements made by Archimandrite Attallah Hanna to a group of Orthodox pilgrims regarding the aspirations of the Palestinian people. The Archimandrite was reported to call for Christians to support the Palestinian national struggle including the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
The Israeli letter concluded with the following threat”..if disciplinary measures are not taken by the Patriarchate against the offensive act of the above mentioned Archimandrite…we hold the right to review the total relationship with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.”
A letter of protest was also sent to Rabbi David Saperstein, Chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.