BEIRUT—One of the oldest cities in the world, Jerusalem is a historic center for ethnic and monotheistic communities of the Middle East. The Armenian presence in Jerusalem dates back to the fourth century A.D., when Armenia adopted Christianity as a national religion, and the Jerusalem Armenian community is one of the oldest pockets of the Armenian Diaspora.
Because of Jerusalem’s significance to Armenians, leading figures in the Armenian religious community were quick to voice condemnation of the the recent declaration by United States President Donald Trump regarding the status of Jerusalem. In a press conference, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, stating that doing so would be “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.” He also called for preparations to begin moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In response, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem released a statement, signed by the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate and Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate, calling for the President to reconsider the decision and “continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem.”
“Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm…. We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division,” read a part of the declaration.
His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, also rejected President Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
During the Catholicosate’s World General National Assembly’s visit with Lebanese President General Michel Aoun on Thursday, Aram I said that the move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may have negative repercussions in a volatile region of the Middle East and may jeopardize the ongoing peace process.
The Catholicos also emphasized the need to respect the legitimate rights of Palestinians and to preserve the rights of three monotheistic religions in Jerusalem.
During the meeting with World General National Assembly representatives, President Aoun reiterated his stance on Trump’s Jerusalem decision, saying it was dangerous and threatened the credibility of the U.S. as a peacebroker in the region.
The World National General Assembly of the Holy See of Cilicia convened on Dec. 4 under the presidency of Aram I and with the participation of around 100 clergy, lay delegates, and invited guests representing the prelacies of the see across the world. The meeting will conclude on Dec. 8.
Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Nalbandyan also released a statement, highlighting Armenia’s interest in preserving peace in Jerusalem, citing the historic Armenian community there, and calling for negotiations between the parties.