The Palestinian Authority has adopted an official constitution based on Koranic "Sharia" Law, rendering all people living in the PA subject to Islamic Law. So writes independent investigative journalist David Bedein in

Over the past three years of the Oslo War, Bedein writes, hundred of Christians living in areas ruled by the PA have been arrested and imprisoned for holding church services or conducting public Christian practices without authorization. Some of the arrested Christians were set free in 2002 when the IDF took over control of what had been PA-controlled cities. This eased their conditions only slightly, however, as they now take refuge by hiding throughout Israel and surreptitiously try to get their families out of PA cities to join them and emigrate to any safe haven they can find in the West. One organization that helps Arabs who wish to emigrate from Israel is called HaMotzi and can be visited on the internet at .

Bedein met with some of these former prisoners, and writes,

"One of them, whom I shall call Joseph... described to me how his family cannot openly practice Christian holidays in Bethlehem under the watchful eyes of the PLO's Islamic police force. After all, the only place in the West Bank where the PLO army currently operates is in the Bethlehem area. Joseph also described how the US-funded Palestinian public school system has become Islamicized, and how his late nephew was literally tortured to death at age 12 by his schoolmates because he expressed love and respect for his uncle as a practicing Christian."

Bedein maintains that the United States refuses to acknowledge these disturbing developments, despite many queries to various officials - and despite the fact that it was US AID that financed the formulation of the PA State Constitution that restricts Christians' rights. The Vatican Ambassador to the Holy Land, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, "expressed his concern to visiting US lawmakers that the PA had adopted Sharia Islamic Law, based on the Iranian and Saudi Arabian models," Bedein wrote.

The PA Constitution, as can be seen at , begins by stating that the territory of the "State of Palestine" is an "indivisible unit based upon its borders on the even of June 4, 1967" - which include, of course, all of Jerusalem and many of its Jewish suburbs. It also states, "All residents of this territory shall be subject to Palestinian law exclusively." Equally improbable is Article 3, which states, "Palestine is a peace loving state that condemns terror, occupation and aggression."

Bedein concentrates, however, on the PA Constitution's Article 5, which reads as follows: "Arabic and Islam are the official Palestinian language and religion. Christianity and all other monotheistic religions shall be equally revered and respected." "In other words," Bedein explains, "as Archbishop Sambi noted, other religions such as Christianity, let alone Judaism, are only to be respected, while being denied any juridical status under the new Palestinian State Constitution." Similarly, Article 7 states, "The principles of Islamic Sharia are a major source for legislation."

Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran that have adopted Sharia Islamic Law have made life quite difficult for Christians, Bedein points out: "Under Sharia Islamic Law, Christians are considered 'dhimmis,' which in effect leaves them as second class citizens. The Archbishop was particularly worried that all Christian churches and schools will be placed under the authority of Islamic Law." Saudi Arabia, run by Sharia law, is in fact one of the most oppressive countries for Christians, according to a report released last year by the Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs, as is Iran.

In the PA, a similar trend is noticeable. The mainstream media have hesitated to report that less than 5% of the population in Jesus' birthplace, Bethlehem, is Christian - compared to only 35 years ago, when a majority of the city was Christian. The exodus of Christians from the city during its ten years under PA control has been dramatic.

"President George W. Bush's administration has envisioned a democratic Palestinian entity that is devoid of terror," Bedein concludes. "Instead, officials of US AID have fostered a constitution that envisions creation of the Islamic totalitarian state of Palestine, completely devoid of religious freedom and human rights. [At present,] no Church can operate in Bethlehem without Islamic approval... This is the legacy of what the US AID has facilitated, with or without the knowledge of the White House."