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Executive Committee February 2004 Statement on the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel's

20 February 2004

WCC Executive Committee, Geneva, 17-20 February, 2004



For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down
the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. (Eph. 2:14)

The WCC Executive Committee, meeting in Geneva from 17-20 February, 2004, guided
by the teachings and gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has destroyed the
barrier, the dividing wall of hostility and by his death and resurrection has promised
one new humanity on the foundation of faithful witnesses for people of every
race; having received an updated report on Israel's construction of the wall in the
Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and in and around East Jerusalem, since
April 2002, which is in departure of the Armistice Line of 1949 ( Green Line)
and is in contradiction to relevant provisions of international law is:

Gravely concerned about the fundamental violations of human rights of the Palestinian
people, the confiscation and destruction of their land and resources, the disrup-
tion of the lives of thousands of protected civilians and the de facto annexation of
large areas of territory and in particular its devastating humanitarian consequences
on the life and dignity of innocent Palestinians,

Recalling the WCC Central Committee minute of September 2003 and relevant
WCC policy statements on Israel-Palestine,

Noting the alarming statements and reports from the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem,
WCC member churches and councils of churches, the Holy See, Ecumenical
Accompaniers, the Secretary General of the United Nations, relevant United
Nations agencies and independent human rights organizations,

Respecting the established principle of international law on the inadmissibility of
the acquisition of territory by force contained in the Kellog-Briand Pact of 1928
and Article 2, paragraph 4 of the Charter of the UN; the applicability of the
Fourth Geneva Convention as well as Protocol I Additional to the Geneva
Conventions to the OPT, including East Jerusalem and the Hague Convention
respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907,

Recalling also all relevant United Nations Security Council and General Assembly
resolutions,

Strongly condemning all forms of violence and attacks perpetrated by the State of
Israel and its Defence Forces inside the OPT and by Palestinian armed groups
against innocent civilians inside the State of Israel,

Recognizing Israel's right and duty to protect its people against attacks and suicide
bombers inside the State of Israel, without contravening international law
and jeopardizing longer-term prospects for peace,

Acknowledging the Palestinian people's right for resistance against the Israeli occupation
inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories, without resorting to terror
and creating indiscriminate fear among civilians,

Reiterating our belief that all people have the right and duty to struggle against
injustice and oppression,

Reaffirming its strong conviction that non-violent means of resistance and peaceful
negotiations are the only way to achieve a lasting, viable solution to the Arab-
Israeli conflict,

Noting that the route of the wall and the scope of its construction give no indication
that it is either a temporary measure or dictated solely by security needs,
Concerned that this act could prejudge future negotiations and make a two-state
solution physically impossible and become a major obstacle to a just and sustainable
peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples;

The WCC Executive Committee:

Acknowledges that Israel has serious and legitimate security concerns and that the
construction of a wall on its own territory would not have been in contravention
of international law,

Considers, nevertheless, the construction and location of this wall in grave breach
of international humanitarian law as enunciated inter alia by the Fourth Geneva
Convention and the State of Israel in violation of the Charter of the United Nations
and fundamental principles of international law: the prohibition on the forcible
acquisition of territory and the right to self-determination as well as application
of universal human rights principles and standards,

Strongly condemns the violations of human rights and humanitarian consequences
as a result of this act, in particular the restrictions on access by Palestinians to the
closed area between the wall and the Green Line and the limited passage through
the wall, violating right to liberty of movement; the resulting obstacles to access
to workplaces, farmland, health services and schools, demolition of houses and
uprooting of trees for the construction of the wall, violating the right to work,
the right to an adequate standard of living including housing, the right to health
care and the right to education; the different requirements for Palestinians and
Israelis to obtain permits to be granted access to and remain in the closed area
violating the right to equality before the law,

Rejects the creation of a new political boundary that defines enclaves in which the
Palestinians will be confined, extending Israeli civilian and military presence
inside Palestinian territory, undermining all peacemaking efforts and most importantly
the whole concept of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State established
side by side the State of Israel,

Demands that Israel stop and reverse the construction of the wall in the Occupied
Palestinian Territories, including in and around East Jerusalem, which is in departure
of the Armistice Line of 1949 and is in contradiction to relevant provisions
of international law;

Calls on the Israeli Government and its defence forces and as well as all Palestinian
armed groups to give up their strategy of mutual killings and terror, in order to
achieve lasting peace,

States that only through an end of the Israeli occupation and a just, comprehensive
and lasting peace settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967)
and 338 (1973) can security of both Palestinians and Israelis be assured,

Supports a two-state solution - Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace
and security within secure and recognized borders, as called for by the UN Security
Council in resolutions 1397 (2002) and 1515(2003).

Welcomes the hearing of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to provide its advisory
opinion on the legal consequences of the construction of this wall and wish-
es to draw the attention of the Court as well as all States of the immense human
costs paid by the Palestinian people and its long-term consequences on peace and
reconciliation,

Expresses its deep concern to the ICJ to consider if the construction of the wall
affects the status quo of the Holy Places in any way,

Calls on all WCC member churches, Ecumenical Councils of Churches, Christian
World Communions and specialized ministries of churches to condemn the wall
as an act of unlawful annexation in the language of Security Council resolutions
478 (1980) and 497 (1981) which declare that Israel's actions at the annexation
of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are "null and void" and should not be
recognized by any States,

Requests the ecumenical fellowship to intensify their advocacy efforts against the
Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories since 1967, in particular the creation
of the wall, and support peacemaking initiatives, such as the Geneva Initiative,
always in coordination and cooperation with one another and the WCC,
Encourages Christians world-wide to continue their prayers for justice, peace and
reconciliation in the Holy Land for the breakdown of the dividing wall of the hostility
between people.

The WCC Executive Committee recognizes and reaffirms the work of the Ecumenical
Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, its sponsors and coordinators and
prays for the courageous Ecumenical Accompaniers who volunteer to represent
the ecumenical fellowship in solidarity and active non-violent presence with the
churches, Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities in Israel and the Palestinian
Occupied Territories, including Jerusalem.