World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

You are here: Home / Resources / Documents / WCC Central Committee / Canterbury, 1969 / Statement on the Middle East

Statement on the Middle East

22 August 1969

Canterbury, England, 19-22 August 1969

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, reviewing the situation in the Middle East in the light of the resolution of the Uppsala Assembly and afer events in the area, notes with deep concern the constant deterioration of the situation and the increasing threat of an explosion which could affect the peace of the world, and adopts as its own the principles which the former Central Committee of the World Council of Churches set forth in its statement on the Middle East at Heraklion in August 1967.

1. Recognizes that no lasting peace is possible without respecting the legitimate rights of the Palestinian and Jewish people presently living in the area without effective international guarantee for the political independence and territorial integrity of all nations in the area, including Israel;

2. Recognizes that the great powers have special responsibility for creating the political climate and the external circumstances in which peace can be restored on the basis of the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution of 22 November 1967;

3. Believes that in supporting the establishment of the State of Israel without protecting the rights of Palestinians injustice has been done to Palestinian Arabs by the great powers which should be redressed;

4. Re-affirms that the World Council of Churches should continue to fulfil its reponsibility to serve the needs of all refugees, and requests it to include in this concern both Arabs and Jews and the basic idea of legitimate free movement;

5. Welcomes the plans to convene in Cyprus in September next a consultation on the Middle East Refugee Programme, and prays that our churches will have a renewed sense of the continuing and increasing tragedy of the Palestinian refugees and other displaced persons, and of the imperative obligations of the churches to minister to their needs and support their basic demand for justice;

6. States again its concern that basic internationally recognized human rights be observed for all people and urges the General Secretary of the United Nations to intensify his actions towards this end.

7. Suggests that the subject of biblical interpretation be studied in order to avoid the misuse of the Bible in support of partisan political views and to clarify the bearing of faith upon critical political questions;

8. Recommends that serious consideration be given by the appropriate department of the World Council of Churches to initiating discussions with Christians, Jews and Moslems as to the guardianship of the Holy Places, the status of Jerusalem and the people of the city.