Jerusalem, March 9, 2002

"There is a time for killing, a time for healing; a time for knocking down, a time for building; ... a time for throwing stones away, a time for gathering them; ... a time for war, a time for peace" (Eccl. 3,3-8).

We, the Patriarchs and the Heads of Churches in this Land, are concerned for the recent developments and the spiral violence directly affecting the lives of the people. We are distressed to find that the bloodshed is increasing in this Country. We are saddened to see more widows, orphans, mourning fathers and mothers on both sides. We deplore the increase of injured people because of killing, shelling bombarding, violence and incursion. We ask "Is this the future that we all want for our children?"

We believe that the key to a just peace is in the hands of both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority. War shelling and destruction will not bring justice and security; rather it will intensify hatred and bitterness.

We believe that Israeli and Palestinian peoples are called to be partners in an historic peace.

We would confirm that we care for the security of both Peoples just as we care for the security of every human being. But the way the present Israeli Government is dealing with the situation makes neither for security nor for a just peace. We believe that the Israeli security is dependant on the Palestinian freedom and justice. For this reason, we join our voices with every Israeli and Palestinian seeking for a just peace. We ask everyone to take the appropriate measures to stop further massacres or tragedies for our two peoples. We want to say a frank, honest word to the Israeli conscience and the Israeli Government asking that you stop all kinds of destruction and death caused by the heavy Israeli weaponry. What assurance can be offered to a people deprived of freedom, self-determination, sovereignty and equality with every Israeli citizen?

To the Palestinian people we urge an end of every kind of violent response. We believe that the way of peace is the way of negotiation. If there is a strong will for making peace all the pending disputed problems will find a dignified solution.

We appeal to the Israeli people to work for their security in such a way that is just and in which the Palestinians may enjoy their rights as represented in the International Legitimacy. We ask you in the name of the Living God, Whom we all worship, to raise your voice for justice, peace, and reconciliation which are the cry of the soul of all peoples of the world. Inspired by the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes, We can say: "We have tried war, stones, killing and destruction all the period of the conflict. Time has come for peace, justice and the collecting of stones for building, reconciliation and healing". Our prayers for peace are more urgently needed than ever.

Know that we have contacted our partner Churches abroad with their respective Governments to seek their assistance in our quest for peace.

"I will hear what God proclaims; for He proclaims peace to his people, and to his faithful ones, and to those who put in Him their hope" (Ps 85,9).

+ Patriarch Irenios I: Greek Orthodox Patriarch
+Patriarch Michel Sabbah: Latin Patriarch
+ Patriarch Torkom II: Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarch
Father Giovanni Battistelli, O.F.M.: Custos of the Holy Land
+ Anba Abraham: Coptic Orthodox Archbishop
+ Swerios Malki Mourad: Syrian Orthodox Archbishop
+ Abba Cuostos: Ethiopian Orthodox Archbishop
+ Paul Nabil Sayyah: Maronite Patriarchal Exarch
+ Bishop Riah Abu Al-Assal: Episcopal Church Bishop of Jerusalem
+ Bishop Mounib Younan: Lutheran Evangelical Bishop
+ Archimandrite Mtanious Haddad: Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarch
+ Georges Khazzoum: Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch
Fr. Elias Tabban: for the Syrian Catholic Exarchate

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