Two men pose for a photo, one wearing a clerical collar, both wearing suits.

WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay (right) and Sheikh Azzam Khatib, director of Islamic Waqf (left).


Part of a weeklong visit by the WCC general secretary to the Holy Land – an expression of solidarity in what’s happening in Israel and Palestine as well as of the WCC’s ongoing work for just and lasting peace in the region – the meeting with Sheikh Azzam Khatib centered on the situation of Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem today, amid ongoing war and military occupation. 

The Sheikh Azzam Khatib described the present-day situation in Jerusalem, including in view of recent demands by Israeli far-right politicians to limit Arab-Israeli worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan this year. 

The WCC has consistently spoken out against initiatives that threaten the delicate historic set of relationships, rights, and obligations encompassed in the Status Quo arrangements and which risk further destabilization of the situation in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Pillay observed.

“The WCC is deeply concerned by reports that the Government of Israel may impose additional exceptional restrictions on Arab[-Israeli] worshippers at the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan. Especially in a time of such profound tensions in the region, such measures would be deeply provocative, as well as violating principles of international human rights law related to freedom of religion or belief, and of the historic Status Quo arrangement in the Old City of Jerusalem,” Pillay said. 

“We call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to refrain from imposing such provocative and unwarranted restrictions which would add fuel to an already volatile situation, we need to encourage the co-existence of all three Abrahamic religions in the Holy Land,” Pillay concluded. 

WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay is visiting Palestine and Israel on 16-22 February, sharing in the life and ministry of WCC member churches in the region, while also meeting with various religious, social, and political leaders including both Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli president Isaac Herzog, as well as visiting the WCC Jerusalem Liaison Office. As head of the delegation, the WCC general secretary is being accompanied by Dr Audeh Quawas (WCC central committee member), Marianne Ejdersten (WCC director of Communication) and Yusef Daher (coordinator, WCC Jerusalem Liaison Office). 

WCC general secretary meets Israeli president, calls for ceasefire, freedom of religion and humanitarian care (20 February 2024)

WCC general secretary meets Palestinian president, urging an end to “seemingly endless cycle of violence and suffering” (19 February 2024)

WCC general secretary meets director of Islamic Waqf, reiterating “commitment to Jerusalem as a city of three religions” (19 February 2024)

In times of struggle, WCC accompanies the journey in the Holy Land (18 February 2024)

In Holy Land, “light and life have a true and enduring existence” as heads of churches gather with WCC (18 February 2024)

WCC general secretary visits Holy Land to strengthen call for just peace (15 February 2024)

Four people pose for a group photo in an office.

WCC delegation consisting of Yusef Daher (left), Jerry Pillay (mid-right) and Marianne Ejdersten (right) meet with Sheikh Azzam Khatib (mid-left).