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Palestinian Christian leaders condemn factional violence, offer help as "mediators"


JERUSALEM (RNS) — Thirteen patriarchs and bishops representing the Jerusalem-based Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican communities released a joint statement in early January voicing concern over the escalation of violence between two rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah.

Comprising just two percent of the population, Palestinian Christians are well aware of their status as a minority and have traditionally steered clear of political activities and statements.

Fatah is loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who recognizes Israel’s right to exist and advocates negotiations with the Israeli government. Hamas, which holds the majority of seats in the Palestinian legislature, refuses to recognize Israel and advocates its destruction.

The leaders offered to act as “possible mediators” to establish Palestinian unity, remove weapons from Palestinian streets, and encourage Israelis and Palestinians “to return to the negotiating table.”