Many Israelis and many Palestinians regard this small corner of the planet (and Jerusalem in particular) as theirs alone and see the fight as a holy war. Through the centuries, no city has been contested more than Jerusalem.
Israel, which has occupied Palestine since 1967, is home to 8.5 million people. In the Palestinian areas (the West Bank and Gaza Strip), 5 million people squeeze into an area 1/3rd the size of Israel. Israel is 75% Jewish, 17% Muslim and 2% Christian. Palestine is 88% Muslim, 9% Jewish and also 2% Christian.
About half of all Jewish people live outside Israel, mostly in the USA. Their numbers are falling due to low birthrate, emigration to Israel, mixed marriages, secularism and conversion to other religions.
The Palestinian diaspora (nearly two-thirds of all Palestinians) has lived in refugee camps for generations, especially in Jordan and Lebanon.
- Pray for the Jewish people. The numbers of them turning to Christ are increasing. Some join ‘Messianic’ (culturally more Jewish) congregations; many more belong to mainstream Christian churches. Many groups in Israel—the ultra-orthodox, Soviet Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Arabs and Druze, as well as children and young people—remain little reached by the gospel.
- Pray for the Palestinian people in their almost hopeless situation. Few have the opportunity to discover the gospel. Palestinian Christians themselves are isolated and ignored even by the thousands of Christian tourists to Israel. Their numbers are falling through emigration. Yet thousands remain, tenacious witnesses to Christ.
- Pray for reconciliation. A quiet revolution in relationships between Jewish and Arab Christians, despite their vastly different backgrounds and historical enmity, is demonstrating how Christ can break down the walls that divide. Pray for a wider, Christ-centred reconciliation between Jew, Arab, Muslim and Christian after centuries of hurt.