Jerusalem – "The Israeli-Palestinian talks resumed in late July, after three years of interruption. But the efforts are hampered by the continuous building of Israeli settlements". This is what the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal reiterated in his critical judgment with respect to the construction and real estate transactions authorized and supported by the government of Israel in the so-called Occupied Palestinian Territories. The allegations are contained in the Christmas message that the Patriarch read to reporters at a press conference at the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon, December 18.
Among the cases that have led to tensions between the Patriarchate and the Israeli authorities, His Beatitude Twal, recalled the verdict on the "Cremisan Process" – which in the month of April 2013 approved the continuation of the construction of the separation wall on land belonging to Palestinian families and religious communities – and the demolition, a few weeks ago, of a house of the Latin Patriarchate in East Jerusalem. Episodes interpreted as "signs of a worsening situation" that "do not facilitate in any way the peace process".
With regards to the economic agreement between Israel and the Holy See on the taxation of church property, the Patriarch emphasized that "both the Ottoman Empire, the British, Jordan and also Israel for more twenty years – have respected the status quo, which included tax exemptions for Churches. Now, however, Israel wants to introduce changes".
According to Patriarch Twal, it is necessary to avoid that any agreements between the Holy See and Israel on this matter "have a political implication that changes the status of East Jerusalem, which was occupied in 1967", as the final status of the Holy City "is still on the negotiating table".
The Solemnity of Christmas – writes His Beatitude Twal in the first lines of his Christmas message – "leads the eyes of the world towards Bethlehem. It is from here, in the midst of conflict and violence, tearing our Middle East apart, that the mystery of the Christmas gently rises and spreads throughout the world". Among the important events already placed on the agenda for 2014, the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins confirmed the Pope’s visit to the Holy Land, "planned for next May, first in Jordan and then in Israel/Palestine".
By: Agenzia Fides