ANTELIAS, JERUSALEM—The announcement by President Donald Trump on Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has angered Armenian church leaders with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia and the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem each making statements condemning the decision and warning of negative consequences.
Catholicos Aram I, who is presiding over the Cilician Catholicosate’s World National Assembly, said that Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may have negative repercussions in a volatile region of the Middle East and jeopardize the peace process.
He made the statement during the Assembly’s visit with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who also condemned Trump’s decision as harbinger of instability in the region.
Aram I also said emphasized the need to respect “the legitimate rights of Palestinians” and to preserve the rights of three monotheistic religions in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and has had an Armenian community whose presence there dates back to the fourth century, when Armenian adopted Christianity as its national religion.
Jeruslame’s Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate and the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate became co-signers of a declaration by the Latin Patriarchate calling on Trump to reconsider his decision, which was made against the advice of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
“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.
Head of the press service of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Archimandrite Koryun Baghdasarian told tert.am that the Armenian Patriarch and the church are very concerned with Trump’s decision as it may lead to unrest, beyond the massive protests that have begun in the Old City
“We have sent a letter signed by all the religious leaders to Trump, urging him to acknowledge the decades-long recognized status of Jerusalem without any changes. The religious leaders express their concerns that such a statement may instigate violence, giving ground to more confrontations and increasing the sufferings that the two nations are experiencing due to the already existing conflicts. It may spur a growing hatred among the residents here,” Baghdasarian told tert.am.