I thank the committee. We are looking for people with the conviction to search for the truth for both Israel and the Palestinians.
Palestinians are not terrorists. The big lie behind the Six Day War in 1967 is that Israel was threatened by the Arab countries and was, therefore, a preventive action. In those six days Israel destroyed whole Arab armies. It was unable to destroy Hizbollah in Lebanon in 33 days in 2006, Abu Ammar – Yasser Arafat – in 83 days in Lebanon in 1982 and Gaza over 22 days in 2009. Against all this, violence has been refused by us. All we ask Israel is to respect us and not treat us like animals.
We also ask parliamentarians and governments across the world not to give us food aid. We do not need cookies from Israel. We do not even need to trade with Israel. All we need is to be protected. We are suffering a war that we have endured for more than 60 years.
If we have Hamas, then Israel has Sharon, Avigdor Lieberman, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and others. We do not agree with any of these fanatic persons on either side. Does Deputy Shatter expect us as Palestinians to protect those who occupy us? How can I protect an army that has occupied us for more than 60 years?
The US ambassador to the UK, Mr. Louis Susman, stated:
It is easy for the Government of Israel to cry aloud about the thousands of rockets aimed at them but detailed examination shows these are inaccurate, ineffective ordnance that has been responsible for a few deaths and some minor property damage, sent by people who are impoverished, living under oppression, under siege, denied access to food, water and basic primary health care. These are a people against whom the retribution by Israel has been so severe that is has been compared to atrocities carried out by Hitler and his elite with thousands of mainly civilians murdered by an arrogant IDF which also systematically went about the destruction of the people's homes, properties and infrastructure.
As for the church, Christianity in the region has been destroyed not by Muslims but by Israel. Israel destroyed the church of Palestine and the church of Jerusalem beginning in 1948. It, not Muslims, has sent Christians in the region into a diaspora.
In Gaza I saw how the Israeli army targeted the Christian school there. Five Hamas Ministers visited the school after it was attacked and promised they would repair the damage. Someone intended to create havoc in the area, particularly when Hamas and Fatah were clashing. When I visited the school, a Hamas Minister, a Muslim, picked up the Holy Bible thrown on the ground, kissed it and put it back on the altar. He said Muslims were forbidden to do such things to the Bible. Hamas paid more than $122,000 to repair all the damage caused. Afterwards I met the Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh. When he embraced me he said this, and we believed it. He said: "Go to your family, but be assured that Hamas will employ weapons against Muslims to protect Christians in Gaza." This is the reality. Christians in Palestine are not suffering persecution, because we are not considered to be a religious community, but rather the people of Palestine. We have the same rights and the same obligations.
We have seen that many Christians have been killed in Iraq, but millions of Muslims were killed there, too, because of the war. Islamic fundamentalism which we studied in the last synod of the Roman Catholic Church came about because of the occupation of Palestine and the different wars we have suffered. It is a fact that there is fundamentalism in Palestine, yet if the occupation continues it will explode and destroy the world, not just us.
As I have told the committee, we do not have anything against Israelis. I am an old priest, aged 72, yet I have never had the opportunity to speak to a Jewish family, because all the time we are facing police and soldiers with big sticks and everything else. All we can see is this army. Israel deserves to have other leaders. It deserves a different Administration to lead her towards peace, not Netanyahu, Sharon or these other people who are warlike, with blood on their hands. They are soldiers, and Israel needs to be led by people who love art and life and who speak peace, not these people. When we cry in your faces and in the face of Israel, we want to stop war and gain peace. We do not want to keep Israel in a state of war. As I have said the spirit of Israel should lead her towards peace. Otherwise, and listen carefully to me, the force of Israel, the atomic bomb, the F-35 fighter planes, etc., if it cannot achieve peace now, will destroy Israel.
Force cannot bring peace. Only peace can bring about peace. War and justice cannot go together. Justice and peace and truth can go together. Truth, justice, peace, development and forgiveness can go together, but not war and the humiliation of others.
If the committee is concerned for us Christians in Palestine, I will use the same words as I did at the end of the clash between Fatah and Hamas, when I was deemed to be the hero of Gaza at the time. They ask me, "Do you fear Hamas, as a Christian?". I pointed out the reality to them, which they needed to understand because it was the basic truth. I said:
Hamas should fear me, because all these Muslims have their children in our hands. We are the Palestinian people. Fear not for us, but look at what Israel has done, and how many villages it has destroyed, how many innocents it has killed and how many war crimes have been committed against Palestinians.
In conclusion, I emphasise that we love the Israelis, but we hate their philosophy of science. However, we love and admire the Israelis, the Jews. We do not want to co-exist but rather to live with them, to exist and be one with them, to build our country with them. I do not want to kill Israelis, rather I want them to help me to help them build our country.
However, we have spoken to Israel for more than 18 years and the result has been zero. We have signed agreements here and there at various times and then when there is a change in the Government of Israel we have to start again from the beginning. We ask for our life and to be given back our Jerusalem, to be given our state and for enough water to drink. We want to be given more opportunity to reach Jerusalem. I have not seen Jerusalem since 1990. If I go to Jerusalem, I need a permit to come from Israel to live in my house, and it is not being given to me. To exit from the West Bank to Jordan I need another co-ordination certificate and this is being been refused to me every time.
We do not want to boycott Israel or kill Israelis. President Mahmoud Abbas, our leader, in his last speech said that in five years not one shot had been fired against Israel in the West Bank. However, Israel is telling lie upon lie as regards the Palestinians. We want to see an end to this occupation, and please do not ask us to protect those who are occupying our territory.