WCC calls for end to violence, urges respect of status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem

The World Council of Churches (WCC) condemns the violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex during the night of Friday 7 May, in which more than 200 people are reported to have been wounded. Reacting to the news, WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca called on Israel to respect the status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City in the interest of peace and stability. We also call for all to refrain from further violence, and from provocative and destabilizing actions.”

These events mark the latest escalation in the mounting unrest over the increase of the Security Forces’ violence and restrictions around the Old City. Furthermore, the recent and future threatened evictions of Palestinian families from their properties claimed by Jewish settler groups in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah district have also contributed to this escalation.

Through its Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and Palestine (EAPPI), the WCC has accompanied and provided protective presence to the Palestinian community of Sheikh Jarrah since 2008, including attending court hearings in support of families threatened with eviction.

“As the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has observed, the laws on which the settler groups’ claims are based are applied in an inherently discriminatory manner, to the detriment of Palestinians who in many cases have lived in their homes for generations”, said WCC Director for International Affairs Peter Prove.

“On behalf of the global ecumenical fellowship of churches, I express our deep distress at the plight of the Palestinian families of Sheikh Jarrah,” said Sauca, “and at the unrest and violence that has ensued.” The proper response, he said, “must not be more violence, but compassion and justice for the Palestinian people affected by this unfair and unjust situation.”

WCC, oikoumene.org