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 / Hanover, 1988 / Appeal to the UN secretary general on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Appeal to the UN secretary general on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

20 August 1988

Hanover, Federal Republic of Germany, 20 August 1988

Dear Secretary General,

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Hanover from the 10th to 20th August 1988, sends this appeal to you, convinced of the urgency of finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We request you to undertake immediately preparatory measures to convene the International Peace Conference on the Middle East, in accordance with the General Assembly Resolution 38/58.

The popular uprising in the Occupied Territories, which has entered the ninth month, reflects a new and profoundly significant stage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The occupation can no longer be prolonged without exorbitant costs, human and material, on both sides, in addition to the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian people and the likelihood of escalation of the conflict with disastrous consequences.

We believe that concerted efforts by the international community for finding a comprehensive solution to the problem have to be intensified. We believe that there is today a new opportunity for peace-making.

In making this appeal to you, Mr. Secretary General, we are greatly encouraged by the successful role played by the UN in resolving conflicts like Afghanistan. We express appreciation for your new initiative on Cyprus with the hope that it will lead to the unity of the country. We are encouraged by the increasing recognition among the nations of the world, including the major powers, about the legitimate and unique role of the United Nations in the peaceful resolution of conflict. The United Nations and you deserve congratulations for its recent achievements.

We specially welcome the declaration of cease fire in the Iran-Iraq war which we hope will end the eight year old war and with the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 598 will lead to a comprehensive settlement. The end of this war provides a fresh opportunity to resolve other Middle East conflicts enhancing the role of the UN in the region, including that of the UN peace-keeping force.

The Middle East is a region which demanded the attention of the WCC from the day this organization was inaugurated forty years ago. We have been engaged in the region through our member churches ministering to the needs of the people, especially the displaced and the uprooted, seeking justice and promoting reconciliation.

This is the year in which the international community observes the fortieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The International Covenants on Human Rights, which are the extension of the Declaration, begin with the affirmation of the right of self-determination of all peoples. Therefore it is most appropriate that we make this appeal to you on this occasion on an issue which centers around the right of self-determination.

The World Council of Churches has affirmed its conviction that the mutual recognition of the Israeli and Palestinian people on the bases of equality is the only guarantee for peace and security in the region. It has further affirmed that the rights of self-determination of the Israeli and Palestinian people are mutually interdependent.

We believe that the International Peace Conference should ensure:
1. the withdrawal of Israel from the territories occupied since 1967;
2. the realization of the rights of the Palestinian people including their right to establish a state of their own;
3. recognizing and guaranteeing the rights and security of all states in the region including the state of Israel for existence within internationally recognized boundaries;
4. recognizing and guaranteeing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon;
5. recognizing that Jerusalem is a Holy City for the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and safeguarding and confirming the special legislation known as the Status Quo of the Holy Places in any agreement concerning Jerusalem.

We express our conviction that the International Conference will be effective only if all parties to the conflict, including Israel, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, neighboring Arab states, as well as the USA, USSR and other concerned states participate in the Conference. Such participation is essential for the successful outcome of the Conference.

We are confident, Mr Secretary General, that you will intensify your efforts, including consultation with members of the Security Council and the parties directly involved, for the convening of the Conference at the earliest.

We assure you of our continuing support for all your efforts for peace and justice. May God's blessings be upon you.

On behalf of the Central Committee of the WCC,

Emilio Castro
General Secretary
World Council of Churches