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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Minute on the situation in the Holy Land after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising

29 January 2001

Adopted by the Central Committee, Potsdam, Germany, 29 January - 6 February 2001.

In an appeal on November 9, 2000 all thirteen Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches of Jerusalem, expressed their conviction that:

The Church believes that it is the right as much as duty of an occupied people to struggle against injustice in order to gain freedom, although it also believes that non-violent means of struggle remain stronger and far more efficient. In this sense, both parties must show the necessary fortitude, both in their hearts and in their minds, to look at the core of the conflict so that the Palestinian people can gain at long last its full freedom within its own sustainable state. It is imperative now to implement principles of international legitimacy by enforcing the binding UN resolutions. Such fortitude is a wise sign of foresight and an indispensable prerequisite for long-lasting peace. (Excerpt from "A Faithful Appeal.")

The Central Committee expresses its deep sadness and grave concern at the new escalation of violence in the Palestinian autonomous and occupied territories as well as Israel over the last four months that has claimed a terrible toll of human life, especially among Palestinian children and youth. It extends its consolation to all the afflicted and the bereaved and assures the Heads of Churches and Christian communities of Jerusalem of its constant prayers and solidarity as they bear in their hearts and minds the pain of their communities and of all those Palestinians and Israelis who are suffering the consequences of this conflict.

We share the frustration and disappointments of our Palestinian sisters and brothers. We are deeply disturbed by and deplore a pattern of discrimination, routine humiliation, segregation and exclusion which restricts Palestinian freedom of movement, including access to the holy sites, and the disproportionate use of military force by Israel, the denial of access to timely medical assistance, the destruction of property, including tens of thousands of olive trees, and which requires special permission for Palestinians to enter areas under Israeli jurisdiction and establishes "cantonization" of the land, so that Palestinian lands are separated from one another - a pattern so very reminiscent of policies that the WCC has condemned in the past.

We therefore urge the member churches of the WCC to increase their efforts to condemn injustice and all forms of discrimination, to end Israeli occupation, to pray for and promote a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East. To help inform and strengthen those efforts, we commend to the churches the background information presented to this meeting for their study and urgent action.

We call upon the General Secretary and staff of the Council to:

  • continue their support of efforts towards a negotiated peace in the Middle East based on international law, paying special attention to the future status of Jerusalem, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, the increasing number of settlements and measures to enforce all relevant United Nations resolutions, including those regarding the withdrawal from all occupied territories - the Palestinian occupied territories, the Golan Heights and Shaba'a;
  • continue to analyze and to keep the member churches regularly informed on the evolving situation;
  • accompany the churches of the Holy Land and their members, and advocate their rights;
  • support local Israeli and Palestinian grassroots peacebuilding efforts; and
  • promote and/or cooperate with church, ecumenical and other initiatives, to strengthen broad international support for a comprehensive peace based on justice and security for all the peoples of the region.