Press release: Bishop condemns controversial plans for a military academy on the Mount of Olives

The Right Rev’d John Davies, Bishop of Swansea & Brecon, has joined campaigners in condemning plans to build a military college on the Mount of Olives.

Bishop John signed a petition that calls on the Israeli authorities to abandon their plans on the basis of the sites’ deep significance for Christians, Muslims and Jews, and on its status as a disputed land between Palestinians and Israelis. You can sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/reject-plans-to-build-a-military-college-on-the-mount-of-olives

He said “A proposal to construct a military installation of any description on the Mount of Olives is both provocative and deeply unsettling to three major faith groups and to countless others who yearn for peace and justice.  Anyone with an understanding of what this place represents will surely recognise that the proposal is deeply flawed. I hope that it will be quickly reconsidered”.

Plans for a military college to be built on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem were initiated by the governmental Jerusalem Development Authority, in conjunction with the Israeli Defence Force and the Israel Land Authority. A consultation was opened in mid-October, giving Israeli citizens 60 days to respond. The consultation closes on 18th December.

The Mount of Olives is of deep spiritual significance to Christians, Muslims and Jews. It is the site of Jesus’ arrest by the Roman authorities, and his later ascension to heaven. In Jewish teaching, this is where the resurrection of the dead will begin when the Messiah comes. According to Islamic tradition, a bridge will connect the Mount of Olives and the Dome of the Rock mosque at the end of days.

The Israeli Ministry of Interior have said that other sites were examined but this was found to be “optimal”. Israeli peace campaigner Hagit Ofran, says that “the Mount of Olives is under dispute between us and the Palestinians, and we will have to solve this dispute only through an agreement. Bringing the Military Academy to this spot is quite insensitive and if I may add, not so smart, of our Government.”

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (England), Methodist Peace Fellowship, Baptist Peace Fellowship, United Reformed Church Peace Fellowship, and Christian think-tank Ekklesia have all also called for the plans to be abandoned. More information is available at www.peaceonthemountofolives.wordpress.com.

Notes to Editors

  • Photos of the site where the college will be built are available.
  • A map showing where the college will be built is available.
  • Contact peaceonthemount[at]riseup.net
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