Religious Leaders Oppose U.S. Law on Jerusalem

Say It Fails to Respect Peace Pacts and U.N. Resolutions

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JERUSALEM, OCT. 8, 2002 ( Religious leaders in Jerusalem sent an «urgent message» to U.S. President George W. Bush, protesting against a budget law that recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In their message Monday, the leaders of various churches and Christian communities of the Holy Land say the measure fails to respect the painstaking peace agreements between Israelis and Palestinians, and U.N. resolutions.

«We are greatly troubled as we learn of the new legislation you have signed in recent days — specifically Section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (HR 1646) relating to Jerusalem,» the patriarchs, bishops and religious leaders said in the letter.

«At a time when so many efforts are being made to end the bloodshed and violence of this land and [to] work for peace, it seems provocative to us that your Congress should seem to want to pre-empt the careful negotiation and legislation which have already been deemed necessary, especially under the Oslo agreement and U.N. Resolutions 242, 338,» they added.

«East Jerusalem is occupied territory and, as such, should be currently protected by international law,» the religious leaders continued.

«Areas of the city are sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. As such, these areas need to be freely open and access safeguarded to adherents of these faiths,» the message emphasized, sent on behalf of the patriarchs and bishops by Michael Sellors, coordinator for the heads of churches.

«We fully appreciate the infinite patience, care and good will which will be necessary to resolve the final status of the Holy City of Jerusalem and therefore appeal to you not to jeopardize future peace efforts; otherwise there will be increased suffering in an already troubled area,» the Christian leaders concluded.

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