Threats to Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem raised at UK Parliament

Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, raised the threats to Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem at the UK House of Commons.

He asked Second Church Estates Commissioner Andrew Selous whether the Church has taken steps to support the Armenian church in the old city of Jerusalem.

“The Bishop of Southwark has raised this issue repeatedly in the other place over the past six months, and it remains an ongoing and very concerning issue. Only 15 days ago, an unlawful eviction was led by the Israeli police within the premises of the Armenian Patriarchate, with no court orders or permits presented,” Andrew Selous said in response.

“Those of us who are good friends of Israel need to call out the violent activities of the settler movement. The Armenian Christians have enjoyed the best part of 2,000 years in their part of the old city in tranquillity. The appalling incident on 3 April was led not just by thugs but by an Israeli officer called Assaf Harel. Frankly, there was downright intimidation and an attempt to force out Armenian Christians. The Christian population in the old city has declined from 25% a century ago to just 1%,” Edward Leigh said. He asked whether the Church of England stand up for Christians in the Old City.

“I am extremely grateful to my right hon. Friend for his sustained interest in this really important issue. It would be an absolute tragedy if there were to be no Christians left in the Holy Land. The House will have heard the figures that he has just presented. The pressures facing the Armenian church exemplify those faced by other churches in Jerusalem and the west bank. The Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem is one of the custodians of the Holy Land and overseers of the four quarters of the city. The Church of England is absolutely clear that the historic settlement and the status quo of Jerusalem need to be maintained. The lack of any call for restraint from the Israeli Government is escalating tensions in Jerusalem, and that remains a great concern,” Andrew Selous responded.

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