08 December 2017

To the esteemed members of the African National Congress:

On behalf of the Christian community in Palestine we send your conference warm and blessed advent greetings from the Palestinian town of Bethlehem – the town of Jesus, the birthplace of Christ.

Us Palestinians have gravely suffered at the hands of our Israeli occupiers and oppressors as Israel continues dispossessing us of our land and rights. This has been taking place for around 70 years, of which 50 years have been years of military occupation, on what is left of Palestine. Today, there are over 7 million Palestinian refugees, still denied their right of return to their land of origin. Let that sink in, over 7 million of our people live as refugees!

Till this very day, Israel continues to reject recognizing the legitimate rights of our people, and it does so with complete disregard of international law. Add to this the UN’s inability to implement dozens of resolutions it has passed on Israel because of the blind loyalty and support of the USA; we find that our cries for justice fall on deaf ears.

We understand that without pressure from outside, Israel will never adhere to and abide by international law. Our question to our brothers and sisters today, as it came in our Kairos document, is: are you able to help us get our freedom back? For this is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace security and love”. We ask you humbly to honestly ‘see’ that time is running out for a solution of peace with justice. We appeal to you as people who had suffered from Apartheid and racism not to offer any justification and cover-up for the injustice we suffer and for the occupation imposed upon us.

December 6th, 2017 marked a blow in the face of all righteous nations, the rule of law, international law, as well as human dignity. On this day, the president of the United States of America decided unilaterally to consider Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel. According to international law and all states that adhere to it, as well international organizations, most importantly the United Nations including its General Assembly and its Security Council, Jerusalem is an occupied city which has been illegally annexed by Israel in 1980. This illegal annexation has never been recognized as lawful or legitimate by any state or institution prior to this act. We fear that this irresponsible step by the president of the USA will will have severe implications on our lives and the future of our existence in our land.

We call upon the righteous nations today and most importantly our brothers and sisters in South Africa to lead the way into another page of history. While the USA at the hands of Mr. Donald J. Trump decided to diminish international law and the rule of law, South Africa has the chance to usher the world into marking this day as one where international law and the rule of law are respected and human rights and ethics are held up and protected. The move by Trump should be a good enough reason for South Africa to take action against Israel!

We call upon South Africa to downgrade its relations with Israel and Embassy in Tel Aviv. Israel is a notorious violator of endless and numerous international laws and regulations not only today not only yesterday but since its creation in 1948. Downgrading your embassy is an important step for what South Africa carries of ethical weight due to your long struggle against Apartheid and racism.

We pray that the South African leadership will act in accordance to South Africa’s constitution and to South Africa’s own history and to South Africa’s position in the world today and tomorrow.

We ask God’s blessings upon you and your conference to be led by the spirit so that a just peace with compassion will preserve the creation of God in our area.

We are confident that the African National Congress is as an ally for justice and for all people who suffer the consequences of the occupation and Apartheid. In the end, it is Nelson Mandela who had once said: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

Jerusalem: Arab Catholic Scouts Group • Arab Orthodox Society – Jerusalem • Caritas- Jerusalem • Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees- Middle East Council of Churches • Greek Catholic Sayedat AlBishara Association• International Christian Committee • National Christian Association• SABEEL – Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center • Union of Arab Orthodox Club – Jerusalem• Young Men’s Christian Association –YMCA• Young Women’s Christian Association –YWCA • • • Gaza: NECC office •  • • Bethlehem (NCOB): Network of Christian Organizations in Bethlehem• The East Jerusalem YMCA /Beit Sahour Branch • The Arab Educational Institute, • Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem• Wi’am Center, Bethlehem• Saint Afram Assyrian Society,• Holy Land Christians Ecumenical Foundation, Bethlehem • Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI)• Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Sahour• Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Jala• Arab Orthodox Club, Bethlehem• The Arab Orthodox Charitable Society, Beit Sahour• Bethlehem Bible College• Diyar Consortium• Alternative Tourism Group, ATG, Beit Sahour • Senior Citizen Charitable Society• Environmental educational Center, Beit Jala • Saint Vincent Charitable Society, Beit Jala• Shepherds’ Children Society, Beit Sahour • Kairos Palestine

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