U.S. church leaders say Clinton ignoring Christians on Jerusalem issue

Posted: Friday, September 15, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fifteen top U.S. Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox church leaders have sent President Clinton a joint letter complaining that the administration has ignored Christians' concerns about the status of Jerusalem.

The letter said, ''Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem is illegal according to international law.'' It also expressed distress over Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the Jerusalem area and declared it is ''totally unacceptable'' that West Bank Palestinians need Israeli permits to enter Jerusalem for worship.

It also denounced efforts in Congress to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem while the city's status remains in dispute.

The U.S. church leaders, whose groups represent more than 100 million members, said Jerusalem Christians' proposal for a special city government status under international guarantees would ''allow Jerusalem to be an open city which transcends local, regional or world political troubles.''

Those signing the appeal included Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, president of the American Catholic hierarchy; Andrew Young, president of the National Council of Churches; the heads of the Antiochian Orthodox archdiocese, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Church of Christ; and the ecumenical officer for United Methodist Church bishops.

No Evangelical Protestant leaders were among the signers.

In 1995 a similar alliance of U.S. religious leaders urged the Clinton administration to grant Christians, as well as Jews and Muslims, a role in determining the Holy City's future.

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