Palestinian Church Leaders Call on British MPs to Recognize Palestine

Letter sent by over 100 Palestinian notables on eve of vote in the House of Commons on non-binding motion that the U.K. recognize Palestinian state.


Senior Palestinian Christian leaders sent a letter to members of the British parliament on Friday, calling on them to support a motion that the United Kingdom should recognize the Palestinian state.

The non-binding motion, presented by Labor MP Grahame Morris, will be put before the House of Commons on Monday.

"Christians have a duty to resist oppression," the Christian leaders said in the letter. "We believe the international community and particularly Europe has not done enough in order to achieve a just and lasting peace. You cannot continue holding our right to freedom and self-determination as an Israeli prerogative.

"We have a natural right to be free and Europe has a moral, legal and political duty to hold Israel accountable and support Palestinian non-violent initiatives to end the Israeli occupation, including the recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital."

The letter was signed by over 100 Palestinian church leaders, diplomats, and civil society leaders and organizations, including Patriarch Emeritus Michael Sabbah, former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Atallah Hanna, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Bishop Mounib Younan, head of the Lutheran Church in Palestine and Jordan and head of the World Lutheran Federation.

"Until when will you continue accepting Israel’s violations of your own resolutions?" the letter continued. "Until when will you allow that the prospects of peace will continue to be destroyed by Israeli colonization? Until when should we be allowed to be treated as foreigners in our own homeland?

"Ending Israeli occupation is the only way for Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, to enjoy a life of prosperity and progress. It is also the surest way to secure continued Christian presence in this, our Holy Land, and to grant Israel the security that it continues to demand. Without Justice there can be no peace nor security."

The church leaders point out that "the only way to defeat extremism and terrorism in our region is to bring justice for all, starting by ending the historic injustice inflicted against the Palestinian people, an open wound that continues to bleed as the hopes for an independent Palestinian state are more elusive due to the expansion of Israeli settlements and the many restrictions imposed on our own people, including forced displacement."

The motion will have no practical significance, if passed, but its supporters say it will send a powerful message.

"The U.K. recognizing Palestine could give decisive momentum to more EU states following suit," Morris said.

"Recognition now would be a clear and legitimate message that Britain and others recognize Palestinian rights and that the illegal settlement enterprise has no validity."