Bethphage (AsiaNews) - Muslim and Christian leaders
as well as civil authorities in Jerusalem have signed a treaty of friendship to
nip in the bud disputes between communities of different faiths and thus avoid
sectarian clashes. The first example of this kind of "local" diplomacy was
achieved in Bethphage (East Jerusalem) on Monday, with the involvement of the
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, representatives of the Latin Patriarchate, the
Custody of the Holy Land and the Arab Governatorate of East Jerusalem as well
as important political and moral figures. Leaders were pushed to seek such an agreement
after sectarian clashes broke out in recent months, in the wake of the
establishment of a Christian subdivision in a Muslim area in East Jerusalem.
Interviewed by AsiaNews, Mgr William Shomali, auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem and
one of the signatories of the agreement, said that the latter "marks a
turning point in relations between Christians and Muslims . . . and can be
exported not only to other areas of the Holy Land, but throughout the Middle
"A treaty of this kind," he explained, "guaranteed
by various local and national religious leaders, could be very useful in Egypt,
where disputes between families turn into local as well as national clashes, with
serious repercussions for interfaith dialogue. "
In addition to Mgr Shomali, the Grand Mufti of
Jerusalem Mohammad Hussein, East Jerusalem Governor Adnan Husseini, and Fr Ibrahim
Faltas, treasurer of the Custody of the Holy Land, signed the accord.
The signatories represent 63 Christian families
living in the Bethphage subdivision, built by the Franciscan Custody of the
Holy Land, and delegates from the Muslim community.
Religious and political leaders are tasked with
ensuring the implementation of the treaty, whose clauses range from mutual
respect to conciliation in disputes over land and the construction of new
More than a hundred people took part in the ceremony,
which was held at the Mount of Olives Club. (S.C.)