Highlights

  • Anglican Bishops call for Jerusalem as the capital of two sovereign states: The Lambeth Conference, a world wide conference for Anglican Bishops which meets every ten years, adopted a resolution on the Holy Land affirming that Jerusalem should be the capital of two sovereign states. The Lambeth Conference, which convened in Canterbury, England between 18 July and 9 August 1998, affirmed in its resolution that, inter alia, "The status of Jerusalem is fundamental to any just and lasting peace settlement and therefore it should serve as the capital of two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine, with free access to the adherents of all three faiths." The resolution also affirmed that "East Jerusalem is an integral part of the occupied territories, and should be included in all political arrangements relating to those territories, including self-determination, release of prisoners, right of return, and eventual sovereignty." The resolution, which was overwhelmingly passed in a plenary session, was proposed by a regional conference of the Middle East and South Asian Bishops and introduced by Bishop-coadjutor Riah Hanna Abu El-Assal from Jerusalem. 
  • The Holy See: Israel's action is causing great disquiet: In reaction to the decision by the Government of Israel, on 21 June 1998, to take steps to broaden the jurisdiction and planning boundaries of Jerusalem, the Holy See stated that "unilaterally adopted decisions, while giving the impression of being acts of provocation, seem to challenge the validity and even the very force of international law." In a "non-paper on Jerusalem", issued on 20 July 1998, the Holy See appealed to "the international community to ensure the avoidance of irreversible solutions which could prejudice the very future of Jerusalem and cause it to lose the universal character which makes it a heritage of humanity." It also considered the said action to be contradictory to past resolutions of the Security Council and of the General Assembly, in particular resolution ES-10/2 of April 25 which condemned the construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem. The resolution, in operative paragraph 11, which was drafted with the input of the Holy See, recommended that "a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of the City of Jerusalem, which should be reached in permanent status negotiations between the parties, should include internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities." 
  • Oslo’s Five Year Anniversary: 13 September 1998 marked the 5th Anniversary since the formal signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (widely known as the "Oslo" Agreement) on the south lawn of the White House at Washington, D.C. and the famous handshake between President Yasser Arafat and the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. No big fanfare is being organized to commemorate this anniversary given the serious deterioration of the situation on the ground and the dire situation of the Middle East peace process. Norway did arrange some festivities in August, which were attended by President Arafat but not by Prime Minister Netanyahu. In fact, the Declaration of Principles and the ensuing agreements, particularly the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (1995) have gone largely unfulfilled by the Israeli Government, even at this date, as we quickly approach the end of the five-year transitional period. The peace process may be dying because of the policies of the Netanyahu government, but the Palestinian people remain determined in their quest for fulfillment of their inalienable rights, the establishment of their independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital, and peace in the region.