Bethlehem 2000: Foreign Ministry Statement

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
17 November 1998

In a little more than a year, the world will celebrate an occasion of great religious, historical and cultural importance. The year 2000 will not only welcome the beginning of a new millennium, but will celebrate the anniversary of the birth of one of the major world religions. This event is of vast ecumenical as well as global significance. Bethlehem, being one of the most important religious sites, along with Jerusalem, Nazareth and other important places, will serve as a focal point to the Christian world and the international community at large.

However, it seems that unity is difficult to achieve even when such a memorable and universal occasion is approaching. The State of Israel expresses its disappointment at the fact that this universally important event is being utilized in the service of politics, as is evident in the United Nations General Assembly’s draft resolution on Bethlehem 2000. This draft resolution regrettably has been given a political character alongside the commemoration of a significant religious event. One can only regret that an occasion marking peace and harmony throughout the world is being made a subject of political controversy and manipulated for narrow political ends.

It is especially unfortunate in light of the efforts presently taking place to promote peace, reconciliation and good neighborliness in the Middle East.

Israel calls upon all those who hold the year 2000 in reverence, to take a stand against the abuse of the celebrations and to disassociate them from any political content.