Christians, Muslims, and civil authorities in one area of Jerusalem have signed a local treaty of friendship that, if successful and replicated, could ease religious tensions in the Holy City and other Middle East communities.
AsiaNews reports that "leaders were pushed to seek such an agreement after sectarian clashes broke out in recent months, in the wake of the establishment of a Christian subdivision in a Muslim area in East Jerusalem." The signatories of the treaty, "whose clauses range from mutual respect to conciliation in disputes over land and the construction of new housing," represent 63 Christian families from the Bethpage subdivision as well as Muslim leaders from the neighborhood.
William Shomali, auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem, told AsiaNews that the treaty may be local, but "marks a turning point in relations between Christians and Muslims . . . and can be exported not only to other areas of the Holy Land, but throughout the Middle East."
Meanwhile, churches have been creating affordable housing to help Christians remain in the Middle East.