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The role of Christians in the Middle East conflict

orn to a Christian family from Beit Jala, Xavier Abu Eid is an advisor to the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). He recently published Rooted in Palestine: Palestinian Christians and the Struggle for National Liberation 1917-2004, the first English-language study on the subject by a Palestinian author.

Mr Abu Eid, what was Christian Palestine like before 1917, when the British promised the Jews a "national home" in Palestine in the Balfour Declaration?

Abu Eid: Palestine before the Balfour Declaration had no internal borders. Christians had free access to their holy places. Like the rest of the region, the country was moving in the direction of independence. All the while, Christian communities were expanding despite economic difficulties. We are talking here about the cradle of Christianity. A prime example is the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which spread to all parts of the country. When the British captured Palestine in the First World War, Christians made up about nine per cent of the population. >>Read More