Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) denounced the latest Israeli decision targeting churches and their property in occupied Jerusalem, and said that such violations not only target holy sites, but are attacks against all Palestinians.

She said that freezing church assets in occupied Jerusalem, and the illegal decision to impose taxes on church property, are very serious violations targeting holy sites in occupied Palestine.

“These churches and their lands have existed in the holy land centuries before the Israel occupied Palestine, including Jerusalem – The Palestinian identity and heritage include the oldest and contiguous Christian presence in the holy land,” Dr. Ashrawi added, “Israel is now violating international laws, and basic religious rights, in addition to violating the status quo of the holy sites.”

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She also said that the latest Israeli legislations are part of Israel’s illegal policies that aim at erasing and ethnically cleansing the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem, and to isolate the city from its surroundings.

“This is part of illegal policies targeting the churches, their finances and their properties, in order to control them,” Dr. Ashrawi said, “Israel wants to remove the indigenous Palestinian Muslims and Christians from the holy city, and to replace them with Jewish extremists.”

Dr. Ashrawi also said that Israel continues its illegal occupation of Palestine and continues to violate the basic religious rights of the Palestinians, Christians and Muslims alike.

“Since Israel occupied the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, in 1967, it systematically placed various legislations, obstacles and laws violating the fundamental right to worship in the holy city,” she said, “It also deprived the Jerusalemite Palestinians from basic human rights, including the right to education, health services and the right to build on their own lands.”