The delegation of the Hungarian Federation of Churches (MEÖT) concluded a four-day visit to Palestine, which was coordinated by the Higher Presidential Committee to follow up the affairs of churches in Palestine and in cooperation with the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Hungary. The visit included many meetings with national and religious leaders and field visits.
MEÖT delegation was received by the Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh. On behalf of Dr. Ramzi Khoury, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Chairman of the Higher Presidential Committee for the Follow-up of Church Affairs in Palestine, MEÖT delegation met with the members of the Presidential Committee, Dr. Varsin Aghabekian and Musa Hadid, in addition to Mr. Raed Hanania. MEÖT delegation met as well with His H.E. Patriarch Theophilus, the President of the Council of Churches of the Holy Land, Patriarch of the Holy City of the Greek Orthodox Kyrios Kyrios Theophilos III, the Patriarchal Vicar of the Greek Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Vindicttus, the Patriarch of the Church of Saint Catherine of the Latins, Father Rami Askarieh, and the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop, Mar Antimos Jack Yacoub, Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Sani Azar, the Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem and Palestine for Latin Bishop William Shomali, the Deputy of the Custody of the Holy Land, Father Ibrahim Faltas, the President and Director of Dar Al-Kalima University, Rev. Dr. Mitri Al-Raheb, the former Bishop of the Lutheran Church, Munib Younan, Bishop Afram Al-Suryan, and Bishop Ibrahim Azar Dr. Jad Isaac, Director of the ARIJ Center, Father George in the Cremisan Monastery, and Professor Gabriel Hanna, Director of Media at Bethlehem Bible College.
A meeting was also held with the Mayor of Bethlehem, Mr. Hanna Hanania, Mayor of Beit Sahour Hani Al-Hayek, Deputy Custos of the Holy Land, Dr. Jack Sarah, Reverend Dr. Munther Ishaq, Head of the Joint List, Member of the Arab Knesset Ayman Odeh, and Honorary Consul of Hungary in Palestine Nassar Khamis. MEÖT delegation started the visit by meeting with members of the Presidential Committee, Dr. Kholoud Daibes, Jihad Khair, and the Director of Public Relations and Media, Raed Hanania.
In addition to the meetings, the visit of the MEÖT delegation included a field tour that included the cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Ramallah, which included visits to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Church of the Nativity, the Latin Church of Santa Catherine, St Jerome’s Cave beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem came the most enduring version of the Bible ever translated, House of the Magi, Bethlehem where the delegation learned about the historical stages that Bethlehem went through, in addition to the process of rebuilding the Church of the Nativity throughout history. Accompanied by Father George, MEÖT delegation visited Cremisan Monastery and was briefed on the services provided by the monastery since 1885 until today, and the occupation confiscation warrants to extend the separation (apartheid) wall.
The tour included a visit to Bethlehem Bible College, the Areej Institute, Dar Al-Kalima University, a visit to the tomb and museum of Yasser Arafat, the siege area, and another tour around the Palestinian camps and the apartheid wall, where the delegation was able to learn about the political and field conditions, including Israeli settler attacks and incursions into sanctities that did not differentiate between Christians or Muslims, whether in Jerusalem, Bethlehem or the other Palestinian cities. What matters is targeting the Palestinian presence in the holy land, regardless of its religious background. The delegation had the opportunity to learn about the continuous attempts of the Israeli occupation to control properties belonging to churches in several areas, and about the Israeli policies and laws at the aim of imposing illegal taxes on churches. Such policies were categorically rejected by all the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem as they directly lead to imposing hard conditions on Christian presence in Palestine and enforce many to leave the holy land due to such Israeli measures. The delegation had the chance as well to learn more about illegal settlement expansions, particularly in Bethlehem, some of which belong to churches.
The delegation was also briefed on the role of the Presidential Committee to establish the Christian presence in Palestine, especially in the face of the Israeli measures and policies that caused a significant decline in their numbers, such as the confiscation of the lands of Christian families in favor of the apartheid wall, permit policy that deprives thousands of access to the city of Jerusalem, in addition to the “reunification” procedure, which prohibits non-Palestinian husband or wife from entering or residing in Palestine. The reunification policy, implemented by the Israeli occupation, has prompted thousands to leave Palestine, the holy land, in search of another country where they can have this basic law for any family: unity.
Following the visit, the delegation thanked the Higher Presidential Committee for the Follow-up of Church Affairs for the good reception, the successful organization of this visit. The delegation was led by Lutheran bishop Péter Kondor and councilor András Gér. Baptist church president János Papp, Methodist superintendent Khaled A. László, Romanian Orthodox deacon Marius Magyar and MEÖT general secretary Vilmos Fischl were also members of the delegation.
Also read our interview with Palestinian Ambassador Dr Elhusseini on Israel, Hungarian-Palestinian relations and many others, details HERE.
Source: Embassy of the State of Palestine in Hungary – press release