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Catholics Tell House Body U.S. Must Back Internationalized Jerusalem

Two Roman Catholic leaders today declared that the city of Jerusalem should be internationalized, and said that the United States “must do everything possible to see that Israel withdraws from the territories occupied in June, 1967.” In their statement to the Subcommittee on the Near East of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Dr. James Kritzeck of the Institute for Advanced Religious Studies at Notre Dame University and the Reverend Joseph L. Ryan, S.J. of the Cambridge Center of Social Studies in Cambridge, Mass. said that “this would be only the first step to peace in the Holy Land, but Christians are praying that it will be taken in recognition and application of the requirements of justice.” After citing the actions and resolution of the United Nations and the views of the Vatican and the State Department which call for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories, the statement continued to say that “If Israel wishes peace, she can have it. But she cannot also have the territories occupied in June 1967. It is essential that she withdraw from them, and that the United States, but for whose permissiveness she would be unable to continue to defy the United Nations year after year, must do everything possible to see that she does.” It also invited official organizations of Christians here to speak out on these subjects.

The statement said, “We recommend that our government and citizens make a contribution which is uniquely theirs to make, to peace and justice in the Near East by admitting the injustices that have been done to the Palestinian people, and by recognizing that their rights…have important applications to the matter of Jerusalem and the Holy Places. The problem of Jerusalem arises in its present context out of the progressive and persistent refusal of the government of Israel to honor the United Nations’ resolution, which is illegal; or anybody else’s opinions including the U.S. and the Pope’s, which is impertinent.” Father Ryan noted a “progressive decline” in the number of Christians in Jerusalem from 25,000 in 1948 to about 10,000 this year. Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, director of antireligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, opened the rebuttal by suggesting that those who left did so not because of Israeli oppression, but rather “for economic and other practical reasons.” The important thing, the rabbi added, was to work for “a genuine pluralistic society under Israeli sovereignty.” The original statement continued to say that “If a fresh phrasing” would be “more conducive to acceptance let us suggest ‘international guarantee’ instead of ‘internationalization.’ ” The statement pointed out that no other nation has recognized Israel’s annexation of the Old City of Jerusalem and other territories, and the UN has repeatedly declared it invalid.

The third and final witness at the subcommittee hearing was Dr. Muhammad Abdul Rauf. director of the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. He said “that the practical and legitimate solution to the problem of Jerusalem is to restore it fully to Muslim rule,” adding that until the 1967 war, Muslim inhabitants constituted a vast majority of the city’s population. He told the subcommittee that Islam “represents a continuity of the one true religion of God, revealed to a series of prophets,” and that Islam has “a more legitimate claim to the custody” of the Christian and Jewish holy places “than they may have over Islam’s own sacred shrines.” Dr. Rauf added that Muslim tolerance gave the Jews “access” to the Wailing Wall, but the Zionists capitalized on this tolerance. He referred to the Wall as a “myth” seized upon by the Zionists to serve as a focal and rally point for Jewish attention. Dr. Rauf concluded that any other solution that does not recognize Muslim authority over the entire city would be in violation of the right of self-determination laid down in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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