Leaders and representatives of various Churches in Jerusalem visited the Al Aqsa mosque on Monday, September 30, 2013. It was an expression of solidarity with Muslims, following recent untoward incidents in the courtyards of various mosques.
On 12 September, 2013, the Israeli Minister of Housing, escorted by tens of extremist settlers, and under Israeli police protection, entered the courtyard of the mosques in Jerusalem, including Al Aqsa Mosque, a holy place for Muslims.
For many years, access to courtyard of the mosque has been a source of tension between Palestinians and Israelis, between Muslims and Jews. Lately this has been the venue of weekly violence.
This continuing intrusion is causing a division between the two peoples and is jeopardizing the peace process. The Church leaders of Jerusalem visited the Muslim community, which according to one of the Muftis “was a historical visit.”
Among the Church leaders were: Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem; Anglican Bishop Suheil Dawani; and the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem Joseph Kelekian. Together they expressed a desire that coexistence between Christians and Muslims prevail, as it is presently and has been for many years. It was unique yet essential, this meeting is a step closer to what everyone aspires – peace in the Middle East but first in Jerusalem.