BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK, January 16, 2001–The Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian Catholic Church has lodged a complaint to Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak after being held in Bethlehem for an hour at the checkpoint between this city and Jerusalem. BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK, January 16, 2001–The Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian Catholic Church has lodged a complaint to Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak after being held in Bethlehem for an hour at the checkpoint between this city and Jerusalem.
Bishop Grégoire Pierre Abdel-Ahad charged the Israeli soldiers with discrimination, which he said he had experienced before.
His official diplomatic car was flying the Vatican flag and the Patriarchal Vicar carried Vatican credentials. In his complaint letter he cited the Fundamental Agreement between the Vatican and the State of Israel, which,among other provisions, ensures right to travel.
The border soldiers told Bishop Abdel-Ahad that Bethlehem was "totally forbidden."
The text of the complaint letter follows:
H. E. Mr. Ehud Barak
Subject: Complaint for an irresponsible treatment against the behavior of the Police and soldiers at the Bethlehem Checkpoint.
Today, Tuesday 16th January 2001 for a whole hour (from 9.00 to 10.00 a.m.), I was stopped and retained by a Police Officer and Soldier at the Bethlehem Checkpoint by the traffic lights, who refused to let me pass to go to Bethlehem though I presented to them all the documents in my possession, i.e.
– The VIP Card
– The Vatican Passport
– The diplomatic Plate of my car N 36 036 22 (White)
– The Vatican Flag with the Patriarchate Cross.
The only reason they gave is that entry to Bethlehem is totally forbidden till 12.00 noontime.
As much as I insisted and argued with them that I am a Bishop and Christian leader and I have religious charges and obligations in our Church in Bethlehem, but to NO AVAIL.