Christians pray with Muslims. For Bernard Sabella, religion cannot and should not be a cause of conflict. Wisdom is needed to restore calm and engage dialogue, just as the pope says. For Adil Misk, Palestinian Christians and Muslims have said "no" to religious conflict. Israel has "climbed a tree and no longer knows how to come down." Muslims will not give up.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Last Friday Palestinian Christians prayed alongside Muslims to demand respect for the Status Quo in Jerusalem and say "no" to religious conflict.
"As Palestinian Christians, we stand by our Muslim compatriots on the need to respect the integrity of the place for Muslim prayers,” said Bernard Sabella, a Catholic representative of Fatah in Jerusalem and executive secretary of the Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees in the Middle East Council of Churches.
For Adel Misk, a Muslim Palestinian doctor and pacifist activist, the issue is not "religious" but "political". Israel is required to observe the status quo which establishes the exclusive right of Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.
For Christian and Muslim Palestinians, Israeli metal detectors violate this status. Christian leaders had taken a similar stance in a statement issued on July 19, in which they renewed their “call that the historical Status Quo governing these sites be fully respected, for the sake of peace and reconciliation to the whole community."
For Prof Sabella, “It’s unwise for politicians” not to de-escalate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians “because if this situation continues, everybody is going to pay the price, everybody is going to suffer, unfortunately.”
The Palestinian official hopes that the Israeli government will “put away the metal detectors” and “if this happens we will have a period of quiet, with wise people talking with each other. [. . .] hopefully people can go back doing their prayer and exercising the religious right in an environment of harmony, and relative peace and quiet.”
Ultimately, “The Israelis have to decide what to do,” he added, “and the wisest they are the better for everybody involved.”
For Adil Misk, Israel "has climbed a tree and no longer knows how to come down." For the activist, Israeli authorities must return to the status "before 14 July" because the Palestinians will not compromise on this point. Praying is “a right that is not given by the Israelis, but by God."
He noted that the situation has created a never seen "mosaic” in terms of Palestinian unity. "Israel is trying to make a religious war, but our response was 'no'. This is not a religious conflict between Muslims and Jews; it is a political thing. Our solidarity is a response against them and a show that it is not a religious conflict. On Friday, Christians were with us, with the gospel in their hands."
"We cannot and should not use our different religions as a reason to confront each other,” Sabella explained. “We should learn how to use different religions to promote understanding and acknowledging each other’s rights. We should respect the status quo of the holy sites and places".
With respect "to holy places, whether Jewish, Christian or Islamic, here and elsewhere, it is important to say it should be as Pope Francis said yesterday: places of worship, peace and dialogue should not be places where you have violence of any kind.”