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Arafat: Continued support for LWF's work

Palestinian President Yasir Arafat paid tribute to the work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and to church-related schools in the West Bank.

In an April 9 letter to Lutheran World Federation General Secretary Ishmael Noko, Arafat also stated his continued support for the LWF's Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem and the Secondary Vocational School in Beit Hanina.

Noko met with Arafat in Gaza in March, and they spoke about the future of the 139-bed hospital. The facility has provided medical care for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank since 1950. The LWF is attempting to reposition the hospital to ensure its role in the future health system of the Palestinian National Authority.

Expressing appreciation for the 46 years of LWF support for Palestinians, Arafat wrote, "You have always been with us. The presence of your people in Jerusalem is a constant reminder of the great concern and interest of the world's Lutherans in our struggle as a people."

Ask end to violence

Meanwhile Bishop Naim Nassar, head of the 2,500-member ELCJ, joined other religious leaders in the Holy Land to demand that Israel drop plans to confiscate Palestinian lands in the West Bank. Israel plans to expropriate 1,750 acres of land north of the West Bank town of Bethlehem mainly to build bypass roads to circumvent self-rule enclaves set up by an interim PLO-Israeli peace deal.

The church leaders also appealed for an end to violence and for "the doors of the Holy City of Jerusalem" to be opened.


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