Israel prepares for visit of Pope Francis to Israel (24-26 May; Bethlehem 25 May 2014)

Dear All
This is how Israel prepares for the visit of Pope Francis to Bethlehem on 25 May, 2014:
Israel requests Pope’s poster be removed from Jerusalem church
Middle East Monitor 13 May 2014
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 …
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Bethlehem at the end of the month.
Haaretz 12 May 2014
Israel is turning the holy sites into a “military base” for Pope Francis’ May 25 [2014] visit, thus driving a security wedge between the pope and the masses of Christians coming to greet him, the Economist quoted a papal spokesman on Monday as saying.
“The pope wants to see the people. But Christians won’t be able to see him. … Israel is turning the holy sites into a military base,” said the spokesman.
“While the Palestinians are opening up the streets of Bethlehem and providing the pope with an open car when he visits their side of the biblical land, Israel is taking no chances. It is planning a strict permit regime, insisting that the Holy Father travels in an armored car, with the public kept at arm’s length behind a security cordon.”
Israeli authorities maintain that the security measures are necessary; they and Vatican officials have both expressed fears of anti-Christian attacks by radical settlers when the pope is [in Bethlehem/Israel].
Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered Monday [12May2014] near the reputed scene of Jesus’ last supper in Jerusalem demanding that Israel keep sovereignty over the site where Pope Francis will celebrate mass.
The pope will visit the Holy Land from May 24-26 [2014] and, before returning to Rome, is set to hold a mass in the site known as the Upper Room or Cenacle, on Mount Zion near the walls of the Old City.
Jews revere the site as the tomb of King David, which is on the ground floor of the same building. The site is also important for Muslims.
“As soon as they touch the ‘status quo’ of this place, bad things will happen,” said rabbi Avraham Goldstein, accusing the Israeli government of wanting to hand the Upper Room over to the Vatican.
Sovereignty over the Cenacle, which was renovated by Franciscans in the 14th century before the group was forced out, is a highly sensitive issue. It is currently part of negotiations between Israel and the Vatican, which hopes to recover the site.
Tradition says it is where Jesus had his last supper with the disciples, before his arrest and crucifixion. It is also where the Gospels say the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, 50 days after Easter.
Israeli President Shimon Peres told an Italian newspaper during a visit to the Vatican last April that a compromise had been reached on the Cenacle, and that “99 percent” of the issues concerning the site had been addressed. However, no official agreement has been announced.
“When ‘the crusaders’ come here making the sign of the cross and all kinds of rituals, this place will become idolatrous for us, and we will not have the right to pray there any more,” ultra-Orthodox Jewish protester Yitzhak Batzon told AFP.

About Oban Concern for Palestine

. . . supporting people in Palestine and Israel who oppose the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Oban Concern for Palestine are a group of Argyll residents who share an interest in Palestine, a friendship with its people and a deep concern for their welfare. And, for the sake of Israel, we want to encourage the government of Israel to comply with international law. Oban Concern for Palestine believe that the oppression of the Palestinian people is a grave wrong, that the government of Israel is in violation of international law, and that we have a duty to speak up and do what we can to bring it to an end. We welcome new members and supporters. For more information, please contact obanconcern4palestine AT gmail DOT com • +44 7747 300 062 • Oban Concern for Palestine, c/o Stronchriach, Rowan Road, Oban, Argyll, PA34 5TY, UK
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