The heads of Jerusalem churches expressed on Tuesday their condemnation of Israeli attempts to discriminate against Palestinian Muslims and Christians, Arabs 48 news website reported.
The church leaders also decried the Israeli government's recent decision to recruit Arab Christians into the Israeli occupation army. For the moment this is a voluntary initiative, but they fear that the current discriminatory legislation will lead to mandatory recruitment in future.
Fifteen patriarchs, popes, monseigneurs and bishops belonging to the different Christian sects signed the joint statement.
According to the statement, the church leaders are closely following the legislative activities of right-wing Israeli politicians, such as MK Yariv Lavin, who have proposed discriminatory draft laws targeting the Arab Palestinian body in Israel.
"It is a false and inappropriate effort that discriminates against Christians and other Palestinians based on religious grounds," the statement said. The church leaders warned that this could cause additional "damage" to the already "fragile" relationship amongst the different religions in Israel.
They pointed out that Christianity is a religion, not an ethnic or national identity, and warned that any such legislation could open the way for an obligatory draft of Christians into the Israeli occupation army.
About the protection of Christians in Israel, the church leaders insisted that this will not be achieved unless all citizens, including Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians, are equally protected.
"This can only be achieved by the reinforcement of citizenship and democracy, not discrimination based on religions and ethnicities," they said.
The church leaders noted that all sects in Israel are in need of a law to protect and secure them, because everyone needs equal rights and social justice.
To achieve coexistence and peace amongst all, the church leaders called upon the Israeli authorities to stop all kinds of discriminatory activities.