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Jerusalem residency row ends: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 30, 2011 p 6. October 1, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Israel.
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Bishop Suheil Dawani

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Israel’s Ministry of the Interior has granted a residency permit for the Bishop in Jerusalem allowing the Rt Rev Suheil Dawani to live in Jerusalem. In an email to supporters, the bishop reported that on 26 September the Ministry approved his permit, ending over a year’s bureaucratic obfuscation and delay.

In August 2010, the Ministry declined to renew the bishop and his family’s residency papers, claiming the bishop had been engaged in fraudulent land deals on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Bishop Dawani and his family were ordered to leave the country, “immediately.”

The bishop denied the allegations, and after the Ministry declined to respond to the bishop’s letters, his lawyers initiated legal action in February, 2011.

International and domestic political pressure was quickly brought to bear. On 6 April, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem released a statement saying they “strongly support the religious freedom rights” of Bishop Dawani, and were “deeply concerned by the precedent of the attempt to deny residency in Jerusalem by the Israeli authorities to a leader of one of the Churches of this Holy City.”

On 28 March, Foreign Office minister Lord Howell stated the British government was “very concerned” by the revocation of Bishop Dawani’s residency permit, adding that Foreign Secretary William Hague had “raised this with the Prime Minister of Israel.” Private representations had also been made on the bishop’s behalf by the US government, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi of Israel and other Anglican leaders with the Prime Minister’s office.

No reason has been given for the government’s change of mind, the bishop reported. But he did want “to thank all of you, my friends and colleagues throughout the Anglican Episcopal Communion and the worldwide Christian community, for your continued support throughout this time. It has been deeply appreciated and most encouraging knowing that we have been kept in your thoughts and prayers as we awaited this most heartening outcome.”