The Israeli police requested a welcome poster for Pope Francis be removed from a building belonging to the church near Jaffa Gate to avoid “inflaming Jewish passions”.
The National Christian Assembly Secretary-General Dimitri Delyani described the Israeli request as a “rude act”. “This rude act will only strengthen the Christian and Muslim unity from all over the Holy Land to prove that Jerusalem is an Arab city with a Christian and Islamic civilisation, and no Judaisation programme or ethnic cleansing crimes will erase this well established fact in the hearts of each and every one of us.”
“This is our city and we will build mosques and churches and we will receive or expel who ever we want, but when the occupation wants to control it and its people and regards them as temporary residents, this would cause a rift,” Delyani said.
He continued “The National Christian Assembly is sending messages to all churches around the world to expose the Israeli practices, including the Jewish terrorism represented in this request.”
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Bethlehem at the end of the month.
The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to host Pope Francis for a day at the presidential palace in Bethlehem to brief him on the latest political developments in the Palestinian arena and the restrictions of movement and freedom of worship Israel imposes on the Palestinians of all religions.
The Pope will hold mass in Manger Square which will be attended by Abbas and the Palestinian leadership and will meet with Palestinian families.
He will meet with Christian figures and visit the Dheisheh refugee camp to meet with its residents.
The pope will also visit the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem to meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch and hold a celebratory mass there.