JERUSALEM - Three leading Christian clerics in the Holy Land appealed Friday for more European governments to recognise a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

The call from the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Lutheran prelates - all of them Palestinian - came after EU member Sweden last week announced its intention to recognise Palestinian statehood, to the anger of Israel. ‘From Jerusalem, our occupied capital, we send our urgent message to the whole world and particularly to Europe - we are yearning for justice and peace,’ the three churchmen said in an open letter.

‘Recognising Palestine and defining Israel’s borders is a first step towards that goal.’ Signing the letter were the former Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, the Greek Orthodox archbishop of Sebastia, Atallah (Theodosios) Hanna, and Lutheran World Federation president Bishop Munib Younan.

The current Latin patriarch, Fouad Twal, was not among the signatories. ‘We are tired of calls for resumptions of negotiations while we can’t reach our churches due to a foreign power and our people continue to be humiliated by an undesirable occupation,’ the letter said.

‘Europe has a moral, legal and political duty to hold Israel accountable and support Palestinian non-violent initiatives to end the Israeli occupation, including the recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border with east Jerusalem as its capital.’ Other EU member countries that have recognised a Palestinian state are Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania. Israel, with the backing of its US ally, insists that Palestinian statehood can only come through negotiation between the two sides. Nine months of US-brokered peace talks broke down in April and prospects for any resumption remain remote.

Moreover, envoys from dozens of countries will gather Sunday for a conference that aims to raise billions of dollars to rebuild conflict-battered Gaza, despite fears of renewed violence and ‘donor fatigue’. The United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency has described the financial needs as ‘unprecedented’ ahead of the Cairo meeting, which follows the Strip’s third war in six years. But it is unclear how generous the world is willing to be given the intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other priorities in the region such as the fight against jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

About 50 countries will be represented in Cairo for talks that will include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry, 30 foreign ministers and various international monetary and humanitarian bodies. The Palestinians have called for more than $4 billion (3.2 billion euros) in aid, and the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA for $1.6 billion. Other estimates suggest up to $8 billion will be needed to repair damaged infrastructure and homes, and ensure healthcare, education and clean drinking water.

The bloody 50-day conflict between Israel and Gaza militants left almost 2,200 Palestinians dead along with 73 on the Israeli side. The war, which ended with a ceasefire on August 26, also left 100,000 Gazans homeless. More than a quarter of the Strip’s population of 1.7 million was displaced.

Even so, a Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, warned there was ‘considerable donor fatigue.’ ‘We have seen infrastructure projects that we have contributed to which have been destroyed,’ the diplomat said, adding that scepticism had existed even before the recent conflict.

 Money raised in Cairo will also go towards getting Gaza’s economy back on its feet.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to be down 20 percent in the first three quarters of 2014 compared with the same period last year. Unemployment stood at 45 percent before the war, and 63 percent among young people who make up a large part of the population. Without immediate action to revive the economy, a return to violence ‘will remain a clear and present danger,’ the World Bank’s Palestinian territories director Steen Lau Jorgensen warned last month.

The Palestinians sought to present a united front ahead of the meeting to assuage donor concerns that reconstruction materials might fall into the hands of militants. The unity government on Thursday held its first cabinet meeting in Gaza, months after a reconciliation deal between rivals Fatah, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), and Hamas, which is in de facto control of Gaza.