March 6, 1995
WASHINGTON, - Eight U.S. Christian leaders including the president of the National Council of Catholic Bishops on Monday urged the Clinton administration to press Israel to stop annexing Arab land in Jerusalem.
In a statement that angered U.S. Jewish leaders, the eight asked to meet President Bill Clinton and urged him to place the question of Jerusalem higher on his agenda.
"In contravention of international law, more and more land is taken out of Palestinian hands and placed under Israeli control by annexation, expropriation and private purchase, often coercive or of questionable legality," the statement said.
U.S. Jewish leaders said they were surprised and saddened by the statement and Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish congress, said:
"This statement harms the many advances that have been made in Christian-Jewish relations. I am disappointed that it was issued without proper Jewish consultation."
He added the statement also undermined the peace process in which both Israel and the PLO agreed the status of Jerusalem was an issue to be resolved at the end of the negtotiating procesws and not to be raised at this time .
Signing the statement were Cardinal William Keeler, president of the U.S. Catholic Conference and archbishop of Baltimore; Edmond Browning, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; Bishop Herbert Chilstrom of the Evangelical Lutheran Church; Archbishop Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America; Metropolitan Philip Saliba of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America; Kara Newell, executive director of the American Friends Service Committee; and Robert Seiple, president of World Vision.
In a separate statement Keeler said he wanted to meet Clinton
"for the sake of the Christian population of Jerusalem and the region, whose historic presence has dwindled so dramatically in recent years."
Jerusalem is holy to Jews, Moslems and Christians. The city was divided until the 1967 Middle East war when Israel captured the eastern section from Jordan and annexed it.
Israel regards Jerusalem as its capital, a status not recognised by the international community.
The Christian leaders did not acknowledge any special Jewish or Israeli role for Jerusalem saying Israel's claim to sovereignty pre-empted genuine negotiations.