Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Christians are still living and worshiping in the cradle of Christianity after two thousand years and are the descendants of those who first believed in Jesus Christ. They live in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and other places in the Palestinian Territories and Israel. They include approximately 127,000 Arab Christians (mostly adherents of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem as well as Melkite and Latin Catholics, with small numbers of Maronites, Arameans, Copts and Protestants), about 25,000 Orthodox Christians from the former Soviet Union (Russian Orthodox) and smaller minorities of Assyrians and Armenians. The majority of Christians in Israel are Arabs belonging to the Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. Israel and the Palestinian Territories are home to most of the holiest sites in Christianity, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified and resurrected; the Basilica of Annunciation in the Galileean town of Nazareth, in northern Israel; the Room of the Last Supper and the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem; the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel; and the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, revered in Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Today, Christians make up around 1 percent of the predominantly Muslim population of the Palestinian territories. In 1920, they were a tenth of the population of Palestine. The Bethlehem Governorate is home to the highest percentage of Christians in Palestine, and in Bethlehem alone the Christian population has slumped to 7,500 from 20,000 in 1995.

In order to protect and preserve Christianity in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the U.S. government, at the highest levels, should continue to emphasize the importance of their presence in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and the region.


The United States must continue to assist in the establishment of a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and use all diplomatic means to ensure that the human rights of all Christian and minority communities in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are respected and hold any perpetrators of discrimination or injustice accountable.