RAMALLAH, Palestine, Dec 23 – Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas called upon the international community to recognise the State of Palestine, on the 1967 border, and support the United Nations initiative to set a deadline to end the Israeli occupation.
“This Christmas, we deliver a very special message to the world: All I want from Christmas is justice. Any initiative to bring peace will fail, if it doesn’t bring justice to the Palestinian people,” he said, quoting the Bible: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Abbas’ request came in a message sent to the Christian communities on Christmas, where he called upon the international community, to partner with the Palestinian people “in order to preserve a large and vibrant Christian presence in Palestine, by stopping all Israeli policies that have driven our people, Christians and Muslims, out of their homeland.”
He praised the role of the local churches and their institutions, in defending their land and Palestinian national rights, in all international forums.
“While the international community is talking about resumption of the peace process, Christmas in general, and the situation of Bethlehem in particular, are a reminder that peace cannot remain an empty word,” said Abbas.
“We celebrate the birth of Jesus, a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace, which has guided millions, from the moment that his message came out, from a small grotto in Bethlehem, over 2,000 years ago. His message resonates among all of those who are seeking justice, and among our people who have been the guardians of the holy sites for generations. It resonates in our prayers for our people in Gaza.”
On this occasion, Abbas reiterated that, Palestinians will continue their efforts for national unity and the reconstruction of war-ravaged Gaza. He renewed calls upon the international community to intensify efforts to accomplish this goal.
“Jesus’ message resonates in our prayers for our people in our capital Jerusalem, who continue to resist the Israeli attempts to turn the city into an exclusive Jewish place. The mosques and the churches of Jerusalem, will continue to remind the world of the Palestinian, Arab, and Christian and Muslim identity of the city. Justice means ending the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, an integral part of the State of Palestine, on the basis of the 1967 border,” stressed Abbas.
“This Christmas we remember our prisoners. We also remember all our refugees around the world, and particularly those of Christian faith, who have been stripped from their land since 1948. The Christian communities of Safad, Beisan, Kufr Bir’im, Iqrith, Suhmata, Al Birwa, Ma’alul, Al Bassa and many others, who are still waiting for justice to prevail.”
Abbas expressed solidarity with the people of Cremisan, in Beit Jala, and “the 58 Palestinian Christian families, whose lands are being threatened by the illegal Israeli annexation Wall, that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem for the first time in 2,000 years of Christian presence in Palestine.”
The President expressed concerns regarding ongoing conflicts in the region. “The uprooting of Christian communities by terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq, just as the test of the killings against faithful from all religions, is a crime against international law and a sin against God.”
“The Palestinian people know very well and have painful experiences of being uprooted due to religious or national reasons.”
Abbas commended the efforts of the Arab countries to stop the uprooting of Christians. He endorsed the words of Pope Francis who said, ‘there is no Middle East without Christians.’
“On behalf of a people struggling for justice and peace, from the land of Jesus, peace be upon him, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, hoping that 2015 will be a year of justice, to advance freedom and peace for the people of Palestine and justice and peace for the world at large.”
“From Palestine, the Holy Land, we extend our warmest greetings to peoples around the world, while we celebrate the occasion of the birth of the prince of peace, Jesus, peace be upon him.”