"Israel continues to occupy Armenian-owned sites"
declares His Holiness Aram I
In response to the Israeli seizure of Armenian owned sites in Bethlehem, His Holiness Aram I made a statement to the press, on Saturday 27 July 2002. His Holiness said: "Confiscation of land has been one of the key strategies of the Israeli state since its creation. Israel's aggressive policies towards its Arab neighbors is a well-known fact. Israel continues this policy, ignoring U.N. resolutions and conventions of human rights."
His Holiness continued: "After we read in the press about the Israeli seizure of lands in Bethlehem that belongs to the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, we contacted the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and received the official communiqué of the Patriarchate concerning this matter. It is very clear now that the "Baron Der" property in Bethlehem, which includes a holy shrine and a monastery, has been confiscated by the Israeli Defense Forces in order to erect a barricade. The Israeli authorities have not responded to any of the Patriarchate's requests concerning this confiscation, and, therefore, the Armenian Patriarchate is turning to the local and international media and is also appealing to the Israeli High Court of Justice."
Aram I added: "We cannot remain silent any longer. Occupation of other people's land by force and violations of their human rights are not compatible with international law. Illegal confiscation of land does not promote mutual trust among nations; nor does it further the establishment of justice and peace among people. Israeli Defense Forces should withdraw from the Armenian holy site. Israel should withdraw from the Palestinian-occupied territories. Confiscation of land will not lead the Middle East to peace. It will lead to new bloodshed. Dialogue based on mutual understanding, respect and trust are the only means to sustainable peace in the Middle East".
Aram I is committed to getting the full story to the international media and is appealing to the World Council of Churches (WCC), The Vatican, and other International Organizations to support the Armenian Church in its demand that the Israeli Defense Forces withdraw immediately from the Armenian religious site.
(Press release issued by the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia)
See also the letter that HH Aram I sent to President George W. Bush of the United States of America