JERUSALEM (RNS/ENInews) Israel has declined to renew a residency permit for Anglican Bishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem, according to the leader of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center (ICC).
The action took place several weeks ago but the bishop’s office was trying to resolve the issue without media attention, said ICC Executive Secretary Yusef Daher. Subsequent appeals and inquiries from Western diplomats have failed.
The ICC is an umbrella group sponsored by Jerusalem churches, the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches.
Born in Nablus, Dawani, like all West Bank Palestinians, must have a special residency permit to stay in East Jerusalem, where St. George Anglican Cathedral and the bishop’s offices are located.
“There is a feeling among church leaders that Israel has no respect for Christians or Christian leaders,” Daher said Tuesday (March 1). “There is no respect for the request of the issuing of residency visas.”
Israel’s Interior Ministry revoked the residency permit after accusing the bishop of selling property to a Palestinian, according to Daher.
In a written response to a question from ENInews, the Ministry of the Interior responded, “We are talking about a sensitive issue that was presented in front of the Interior Minister and our detailed answer will be delivered in the court, in the frame of the petition that was served.”
Church leaders are following the case with concern, Daher said, because many bishops and clergy serving come from abroad, including Arab countries, and must renew Israeli permits every two years to remain in Jerusalem and enter Israel to reach the West Bank.