RAMALLAH, Monday, January 17, 2022 (WAFA) - The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, today told President Mahmoud Abbas that extremist Zionist groups want to expel Christians from Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land.
President Abbas received in his Ramallah office the Greek Orthodox patriarch and his accompanying delegation during which the Patriarch briefed the President on the latest situation in the Holy City and the frequent attacks against the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, especially Christians, clergy and churches, and the continuous intimidations against Christians who exercise their natural right to worship.
He explained that the heads of churches have resolved to carry out an international campaign that will put the Christian world in the picture of the violations committed by the extremist Zionists against the Holy City, especially the attacks on Orthodox real estate threatened to be seized by these extremist Zionist groups in Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Square in Jaffa Gate (Bab Al-Khalil) in Jerusalem’s Old City, which he said is a corridor for pilgrims to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the various monasteries and churches.
He thanked President Abbas for the efforts made by the State of Palestine and the continuous support it provides to preserve Islamic and Christian holy sites, especially to preserve the Christian presence in Jerusalem and the rest of the Palestinian territories.
The Patriarch also spoke about projects that are being implemented by his church to contribute to strengthening the status of pilgrimage sites that receive millions of Christians around the world, such as the project of restoring Mar Elias Monastery, restoring Mar Mitri School in the Old City of Jerusalem and launching the “Our Jerusalem” project, which includes 400 apartments and a shopping center in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, all aimed to strengthen the resilience of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, as well as projects in Beit Jala and Beit Sahour and in the city of Bethlehem in cooperation with the Higher Presidential Committee for Churches Affairs, which includes housing projects and a cultural center on the land granted to the National Orthodox Society in Bethlehem.
"We in Jerusalem, Mr. President, derive our resolve from you, and from your directives. We continue the process of construction and steadfastness and work towards achieving a just and comprehensive peace that guarantees the rights of the oppressed and preserves the true identity of the city of Jerusalem," said the Patriarch.
For his part, the President welcomed the Patriarch and his accompanying delegation, congratulating them on the occasion of Christmas and the New Year, wishing that the current year would be a year of peace and the realization of the Palestinian people's hopes for freedom and independence.
He stressed that the State of Palestine will continue its support for all its people in Jerusalem, and to protect Islamic and Christian holy sites in light of the attacks the city is being subjected to by settlers and extremist groups.
"We share with you the importance of carrying out more vital projects that contribute to the consolidation of the Christian presence in Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land, and we highly value your undertaking such projects and your international campaign aimed at exposing violations against the believers in the Holy Land," President Abbas told his guests.
“For our part, we will continue to work to support the steadfastness of our people in Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land, and to continue in the international campaign that we launched for this goal,” he added.