Christian Patriarchs to Meet Palestinian Officials to Discuss Summit Talks
The leaders of the major Christian churches will meet a top Palestinian delegation Monday to discuss the Camp David peace negotiations and their implications for the fate of Jerusalem, church and Palestinian officials said.
A team of Palestine Liberation Organization officials, including Faisal Husseini who holds the Jerusalem portfolio, is due to meet with representatives from the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian churches.
Officials from the Custody of the Holy Land, a Franciscan order with special authority over several Christian sites, will also meet the Palestinians, an official at the Greek Orthodox patriarchy, which is hosting the meeting, told AFP.
The Jerusalem church patriarchs have set aside two days to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian officials to lobby for an increased role in any settlement on the Holy City reached at the Camp David peace summit.
In a letter sent last week to US President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, the patriarchs called for "a system of international guarantees" to protect religious communities' rights in the Holy City and asked that church representatives be present at Camp David.
The letter also stressed that Christian quarters of Jerusalem's Old City, located in east Jerusalem which Israel occupied and annexed in 1967, should not be split up in any deal reached on the status of the city.
Jerusalem is home to the Holy Sepulcher, where Christians believe Jesus was crucified before his resurrection.
The fate of Jerusalem is the most difficult issue being tackled by Israel and the Palestinians trying to reach a peace deal to end their decades-long conflict - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)