Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the Christian world today, on Christmas Day, to pray for the peace and dignity of his people and expressed his desire for 2019 to see the end of the Israeli occupation.
Abbas, who recently visited Pope Francis in Rome, communicated to him his hope that "2019 will be the year of the end of the occupation and the achievement of the national aspirations of a (Palestinian) state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, living next to their neighbors. "
"I call on all believers and people of good will in the world to pray and work for justice, peace, love and equality among all, especially for our people, who have been denied their right to live. in freedom and dignity for decades, "he said in his Christmas message, broadcast by the Palestinian public news agency Wafa.
Abbas took the opportunity to denounce an "escalation of racist policies and Israeli colonial activities, especially in Jerusalem, through systematic procedures to change their characteristics, identity and cultural message," and reiterated his desire for the city to be an "open" city. for all believers and followers of monotheistic religions: Muslims, Christians and Jews. "
In that regard, he called for freedom of movement for Palestinians who can not pray in their holy places "as a result of continued occupation."
As a sign of the deterioration of the situation of Christian communities in the Holy Land by Israel's policies, Abbas recalled the recent unprecedented closure this year for a few days of the Holy Sepulcher in protest of Israeli tax policies.
He also criticized the "confiscation of lands and legislative proposals to confiscate church lands and properties, expand settlements, demolish homes and revoke family residence permits or deny them family reunification."
"Will the Christian world celebrate Christmas or Holy Week at a time when our Christian people, whom we call living stones of the Holy Land, are pushed to emigrate by the grave situation and hardness of life that we experience by oppressive and arbitrary measures? Israelis? "he asked.
In the coming days, some 350 Palestinian Christians from Gaza will be able to enter Jerusalem and Bethlehem, exceptionally, to celebrate Christmas, after obtaining special permits for it from the Israeli Army.