The bishops of the 2021 Holy Land Co-ordination (HLC) urge Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to reopen “dialogue between all sides”.
They also called on their home governments to support “dialogue between all sides”, uphold international law and reaffirm the plurality of Jerusalem, “given its unique significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims.”
In a series of sessions from 16th-21st January, the Bishops of the HLC discussed the difficulties facing the Christians of the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.
They noted in their final communique that there is “today less cause for optimism than at any time in recent history”.
“The health challenges of Covid-19, felt by the entire world, are compounded by conflict, occupation and blockade,” it read.
“The absence of international pilgrims has exacerbated widespread economic hardship,” they wrote, “increased levels of unemployment and pushed many more families into poverty.
“The lack of political progress, along with relentless expansion of illegal settlements and the impact of Israel’s Nation-State law, continues to erode any prospect of a peaceful two-state solution.”
They asserted that “the international community must hold Israel accountable for its moral, legal and humanitarian responsibility to make Covid-19 vaccines accessible for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and encourage cooperation by the Palestinian Authority.”
In an appeal to support the Christians in the Holy Land, they noted the importance of “church schools, clinics, hospitals and other social work”.
“These Christian institutions are vital in bringing together people from many different backgrounds to serve the common good of all.”
The bishops “eagerly await” the time when Christians are able to return to the Holy Land to “witness and support” this work.