Jerusalem has a shared past and future for three religions. world churches body tells UN forum

(Photo: © Peter Kenny)Signpost of the Jerusalem's three religions Feb. 14, 2016

The future of Jerusalem is a shared one between three religions living in peace and hope based on historic cultural and religious heritage, the World Council of Churches has said at a United Nations international conference on the Holy Land city.

The theme of the June 27-28 conference was "Preserving the cultural and religious character of Jerusalem."

It was convened by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People with support of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The link between religious constructions of identity and the idea of the Holy Land has been frequently studied and explored, the message noted.

"More than a theoretical framework, this link is contextualized within the diverse religious communities in Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

"Their self-understandings of their religious and cultural identities, and their concepts of the holiness of the land, exhibit a reciprocal relationship."

At the same UN conference Palestinian Social Affairs Minister Ahmed Majdalani, said Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The UN forum on the status of Jerusalem gathered in Geneva just one day after the United States held an economic forum in Bahrain about a US$50 billion plan for Palestinians should a peace deal be achieved.

"The international community has recognized no portion of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Majdalani said.

The status of Jerusalem cannot be unilaterally changed and must be in keeping with UN resolutions and international understandings, he said.

The Palestinian minister said, "The US is attempting to force all international stakeholders to accept this situation as a fait accompli," Majdalani said.

Israel did not address the conference at UN's European headquarters, that took place on the sidelines of the 41st session for the UN Human Rights Council.

The Jerusalem Post commented, "It was organized by one of the most pro-Palestinian UN groups, the Committee for the Question of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People."


The gates of Jerusalem must remain open to the world beyond politics, conflicts, and divisions, the WCC's Tveit urged in his message.

"Its soul cannot be locked in a definition, in legislation, or in a text," he wrote. "The spirit of Jerusalem will inhabit each and every human who offers love and reverence to her."

The WCC shares a profound and abiding love of and concern for Jerusalem and for the peoples living there, Tveit said in the message.

"The future of Jerusalem must be a shared one," he said. "It cannot be the exclusive possession of one faith over against the others, or of one people over against the others."

Jerusalem is, and must continue to be, a city of three religions and two peoples, Tveit reiterated.

"The unique status of Jerusalem, its unique identity and history, must be reflected in a concrete international pact that ensures that it remains a city for two peoples and three religions," he said.

"Jerusalem, symbol of the spiritual core of three religions, must become a city of peaceful coexistence, open to the world, embracing humanity and elevating human dignity, as an example of the love of God for all."

(Photo: © Peter Kenny)Jerusalem minarets and spires on Feb. 14, 2016.
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