Head of the PLO Department of the Christian World, Father Manuel Musallam, said yesterday that he rejects Christians visiting Jerusalem under Israeli protection, Al-Resalah newspaper reported.
In an interview with the paper, Musallam said: “The Israelis use such visits to distort what the holy city is being exposed to. We are in a state of war during which we need to be vigilant to what the occupation is doing.”
He said that the Israeli occupation considers the visits of the Arabs and Christians a kind of tourism, noting “promoting this is wrong.” The Coptic Church “has no right allowing visits to religious holy places during the war with Israel.”
The outspoken leader went on to criticise policies of “normalisation” which made “Arab capitals receive Israelis.”
He called for official delegations to be taken around Jerusalem and the West Bank to learn about the occupation and its attempts to change the facts on the ground.
Musallam’s remarks came after Israeli reports that more than 7,000 Egyptian Copts visited holy sites in the occupied territories after the visit of a Coptic priest to Jerusalem a couple of months ago.
However, monitors believe that the Coptic Church in Egypt, which fully supports the country’s military coup, acts in a manner that keeps up with the ruling authorities in the country which has normalised relations with Israel.
Regarding Gaza, Musallam renewed calls for lifting the siege and supporting the Palestinian people.