Vincent Nichols and Mahmoud Abbas meet over peace in Holy Land
Head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met in London this week to discuss the urgent need for progress on peace in the Holy Land.
According to Church officials, President Abbas affirmed the presence of Christians in the Holy Land as an integral part of the Palestinian community and not simply a minority.
He thanked the Church in the UK for its work in supporting a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and helping projects in Palestine, including house building projects to enable Christians to remain in Jerusalem.
Mr Abbas, who will meet Pope Francis next month, also said he was encouraged by US Secretary of State John Kerry's serious intent about the outstanding peace initiative, but voiced concern about East Jerusalem being cut off from the rest of Palestine and the continuing expansion of settlements on Palestinian land, which he warned could jeopardise the peace progress.
He also asked the Archbishop and all Christians for assistance on the issue of Cremisan, where the building of the security wall and the illegal appropriation of Christians' lands in the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Jala is affecting livelihoods and leading to accelerated emigration of Christians from the area.
Archbishop Nichols gave assurances of the continued prayers and practical assistance of Christians in England and Wales.
"I was pleased and honoured to meet with President Abbas and his delegation," he said.
"This gave an added dimension to our many visits and the continuing work of the Holy Land Co-ordination, which will go out again in January. Promoting a just peace for all in the Holy Land is a crucial issue which affects the whole world."