Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:38AM
A picture taken on April 8, 2016 shows a general view of the Catholic Church of Saint John the Baptist in the village of Ein Karem in West al-Quds (Jerusalem). ©AFP
A picture taken on April 8, 2016 shows a general view of the Catholic Church of Saint John the Baptist in the village of Ein Karem in West al-Quds (Jerusalem). ©AFP
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Why do Christian leaders around the world turn a blind eye to the plight of Palestinian Christians?

The small, but important, Palestinian Christian community (numbering around 40,000 people) faces regular discrimination in the birthplace of Christianity.

Both Palestinian Christians and Muslims have faced religious persecution and discrimination on several different levels as result of Israeli policies throughout Palestine. On the front line is the Palestinian population of al-Quds (Jerusalem), Muslims and Christians alike.

These al-Quds-born Palestinians face the ongoing annexation of their land, the demolition of their homes and eviction.

The inescapable fact is that they are the victims of ethnic cleansing by the Israelis.

The elimination of the Palestinian presence in the Holy City is being brought about by the systematic destruction of homes and culture, and expulsion of the people, which gives way to the seemingly unstoppable expansion of massive illegal settlement blocs.

Both guests discussed the religious discrimination that both Muslim and Christian Palestinians face.

Al-Quds has a history of being a city shared among the religions but that is no longer true, as Palestinian Muslims and Christians face restrictions on access and worship.

Israel has set up an institutionalized system of checkpoints, permits and barriers to limit the movement of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who wish to enter religious sites for acts of worship.

While their Christian compatriots face challenges entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the heart of the Old City, the Palestinian Muslims face similar hurdles trying to attend prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli settlers, however, are granted almost free access — with the protection of the security forces — in a clear example of Israeli discrimination and repression that is concentrated in al-Quds.