Bishop of Southwark asks about Israel – freedom of religion, Holy Land sites, church property

On 20th and 21st November the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, received written answers to six questions on Israel – freedom of religion, Holy Land sites, church property and the Church Lands Bill before the Knesset:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark:

(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the Church Lands Bill which is being considered in the Israeli Knesset.

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel regarding the Church Lands Bill which is being considered in the Israeli Knesset.

(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of freedom of religion or belief in Israel.

(iv) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of recent alleged breaches of the Status Quo of the Holy Land sites in Jerusalem.

(v) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel on the importance of respecting the Status Quo of the Holy Land sites in Jerusalem.

(vi) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel on the importance of protecting Church property in the Old City of Jerusalem, following the decision in July of the Jerusalem District Court in the Jaffa Gate case.


Answers:

(i) Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: At this point we have not made a detailed assessment of the Church Lands Bill which is being considered by the Israeli Knesset. We consider the bill primarily to be a domestic policy issue.

via parliament.uk

(ii) Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: We consider the Church Lands Bill to primarily be a domestic policy issue and as such we have not raised this issue with the Israeli authorities.

via parliament.uk

(iii) Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: Freedom of religion and belief continues to be a priority for this Government. We are pleased that the Israeli Government, including Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin, have publicly highlighted their commitment to ensuring freedom of religion and belief in Israel.

via parliament.uk

(iv) Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: Jerusalem is a sacred place for millions of people from different faiths. During the incidents of July 2017 at Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, the Minister for the Middle East and North Africa welcomed the efforts made by all parties to ensure the safety and security of the site whilst maintaining the status quo. ​​​We have made no more recent assessments on this issue.

via parliament.uk

(v) Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: We encourage Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan to do all they can to work together to avoid tensions and continue to uphold the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem. Our embassy in Tel Aviv most recently discussed the security situation at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount with the Israeli authorities on 26 October.

via parliament.uk

(vi) Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: We have not raised this issue with the Israeli authorities. We believe a final determination of the status of Jerusalem should be sought as part of a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. It must ensure Jerusalem is a shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states, with access and religious rights of both peoples respected.

via parliament.uk