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Open Letter on the Status of Jerusalem

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World Council of Churches
Geneva, Switzerland 31 March 2005

From Peter Weiderud, director,
Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, WCC

The World Council of Churches is deeply concerned about actions by the Government of Israel which threaten the achievement of a just peace  for both Israel and Palestine by pre-empting negotiations on the final status of Jerusalem within the framework of international law. This  letter reiterates the position of the WCC on a matter of critical importance.

While world attention is drawn to its Gaza withdrawal plans, the  Government of Israel has intensified unilateral programs to  consolidate control over Jerusalem and other occupied territory.

These include:

* Creating a new de facto border by construction of the Wall on  occupied territory, cutting all of annexed Jerusalem off from the West  Bank in contravention of international law and the Advisory Opinion of  the International Court of Justice in 2004.

* Cutting the West Bank in two by adding 3,500 housing units to  Maale Adumim settlement. This decision mocks prospects for a viable, contiguous Palestinian State with a shared Jerusalem as its capital.

* Repeated declarations by the government�s top leaders that  large illegal West Bank settlements and all of Jerusalem will belong  to Israel in any final agreement.

* Ongoing violations of human and civil rights of Palestinians  in Jerusalem�illegal Jewish settlements are built in their  neighborhoods while construction permits for Palestinians are denied,  family homes are demolished, requests for family reunification are denied.

* Threats and more threats, including an absentee property law  allowing confiscation of Palestinian property in Jerusalem and a new  regulation to require permits for Jerusalem residents entering the  West Bank.

The WCC has long affirmed that the final status of Jerusalem must be  part of a comprehensive peace settlement and be negotiated without delay; that the unilateral annexation of Jerusalem by the Government of Israel puts regional and world peace in jeopardy; that alterations
of boundaries, population and settlements which change the religious,  cultural or historical character of Jerusalem without the consent of  the parties involved and the approval of the international community  are violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Irregular transfers of church-held land from one side to the other  only add to the alarm of those who hope for justice; all such  transfers must be annulled.

The WCC calls for an open and inclusive Jerusalem, a city of shared  sovereignty and citizenship, a city of two peoples and three faiths,  of Christians, Muslims and Jews. Now is the time to cease actions  that pre-empt peace in Jerusalem and to begin negotiation of  Jerusalem�s final status within the framework of international law.


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