Letter to the Camp David Summit from the Patriarchs of Jerusalem

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Letter to the Camp David Summit from the Armenian patriarchs of Jerusalem
Diodoros I, Michel Sabbah and Torkom II

HE Mr. Bill Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States
HE Mr. Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel
HE Mr. Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Authority
Jerusalem, 17 July 2000

Your Excellencies:

Greetings to you from Jerusalem as you strive to bring peace to our beloved Holy Land. We continue to pray that you will succeed in your prophetic mission of ending the long and painful conflict in our region. Yours is a difficult and challenging task, and we remain confident that you will conclude it in a manner that lifts up the hopes of the two peoples and three religions of this land—Palestinians and Israelis, Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

Your Excellencies, it is an established fact that our Patriarchates and Churches enjoy a long history and a rich heritage in this biblical land. Local Christians have been represented by their ecclesial institutions here for centuries, and have enjoyed special privileges that were codified by the Status Quo provisions as much as by custom and tradition over many centuries. As you deliberate over those issues that impact the Holy City of Jerusalem, we trust you will not forget or overlook our age-long presence here. The rich tapestry of this land is made even richer and more precious with this continuous Christian life, witness and presence alongside the two other Abrahamic traditions of Judaism and Islam.

Conscious of this qualitative and quantitative reality as represented by all our Christian communities, we appeal to you as foremost political leaders and negotiators to ensure that the Christian communities within the walls of the Old City are not separated from each other. We regard the Christian and Armenian Quarters of the Old City as inseparable and contiguous entities that are firmly united by the same faith. Furthermore, we trust that your negotiations will also secure that any arrangement for Jerusalem will ensure that the fundamental freedoms of worship and access by all Christians to their holy sanctuaries and to their headquarters within the Old City are not impeded in any way whatsoever. Such freedoms underline the special nature of this city and enhance its right to development.

We suggest that one possible way of ensuring this peaceful unity and cohesive prosperity of the Christian presence in the Holy City of Jerusalem—with its varied mosaic of worshippers, churches and sanctuaries—is through a system of international guarantees that will ensure to the three religious communities a quality of right of access to their respective holy places, of profession of faith and of development.

Your Excellencies, as Heads of our Churches and being fully conscious of the heavy duty we carry with us, we also suggest that it might well be advisable to have representatives from our three Patriarchates and the Custody of the Holy Land at the Camp David summit meeting as much as at any future fora in order to provide a continuity and consultation on our future and on our rights so that our one collective presence here—with its history of rights and expectations-is maintained unequivocally and safeguarded fully.

In conclusion, and as we re-iterate our prayers for the success of your summit meeting, we also recall that Jerusalem—al-Quds the Sacred and Yerushalaim the Peaceful—will remain vital to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. And in so being, it will also reflect a sense of full equality for all the three religions witnessing in this land.

  • Diodoros I
    Greek Orthodox Patriarch
  • Michel Sabbah
    Latin Patriarch
  • Torkom II
    Armenian Orthodox Patriarch