By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
BETHLEHEM/JERUSALEM (BosNewsLife)– A European Parliament member has condemned the reported closure of the Arabic First Baptist Church in Bethlehem by the Palestinian Authority.
Dutch legislator Peter van Dalen, of the ChristenUnie or ‘ChristianUnion’ party, told BosNewsLife that he asked EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to investigate the case.
“It is unaccaptable that the Palestinian Authority uses polical arguments to close the doors of the church,” in this West Bank town, Van Dalen said. “I want to know what steps Ashton is taking to ensure that this clear violation of freedom of religious is being corrected,” he added.
The reason for the reported closure of the church Saturday, March 10, was not immediately announced.
Van Dalen said there are “strong indications” that the church was banned because it recognizes the state of Israel. “When I visited the church last year I learned from the pastor that he was pressured because his congregation recognizes the Jewish state of Israel.”
Van Dalen claimed there have been “several attacks” against the pastor and some church members.
He did not elaborate.
“This is really not possible. Political arguments can never be a reason for closure,” the politician added.
Palestinian officials have not yet commented on the closure of the church in Bethelem, where the Bible says Jesus was born.
Christians comprise less than 4 percent of those living within the Palestinian territories, according to several estimates as many have left amid concerns over their future, church groups claim.