World Council of Churches

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

Letter on the Middle East conflict

21 June 2006

Sent to the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council*, 21 July, 2006

* Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière, Permanent Representative of France; Ambassador Wang
Guanga, Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China; Ambassador Vitaly Churkin,
Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation; Sir Jones Parry, KCMG, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Ambassador John R. Bolton, Permanent Representative of the United Sates of America to the United Nations Security Council

Your Excellencies,

This letter concerns the tragedy unfolding in the Middle East and the critical
opportunity it presents.

Member churches of the World Council of Churches around the globe have watched
the vast and intentional destruction of recent days with sorrow and alarm. The
people of Lebanon are suffering violence whose scale defies comprehension; half
a million people have fled their homes. Citizens of Israel fear death from the sky;
residents of Gaza mourn new losses day after day.

Responsibility for this chaos is shared. Solutions must be shared, as well. Precious
days have been lost in disagreements at the highest level, while the battleground
spreads and casualties mount on all sides. It is time to demonstrate the unique
potential of the Security Council to bring peace. Joint and conclusive action is
necessary.

The Security Council has already identified goals necessary for Lebanon's fragile
recovery. The implementation of Resolution 1559 that was proposed on the margins
of the G8 summit deserves urgent action, including the deployment of an
international force.

However, we fear that the pathology of violence will re-appear along the Lebanon-
Israel border - and continue in Gaza and the West Bank - unless Security Council
resolutions in both conflicts are implemented. As the current crisis makes clear,
the fault lines of instability now run right through the region.

Fortunately, and to the Security Council's credit, a key political remedy for instability
in Lebanon is available in resolutions concerning Israel and the Occupied
Palestinian Territories. The political challenge in implementing these resolutions
is enormous, of course, but it is no longer credible to act as if segmented or unilateral
plans will work in isolation. Nor will they ever satisfy the legitimate claims
on all sides.

Accordingly, the World Council of Churches urges your governments as the permanent
members of the UN Security Council to exercise much-needed cooperation
among you and with the Secretary General in order to implement a series of
linked, multilateral actions. These should include:

immediate cease-fires in Lebanon and Gaza; deployment of a multinational force
capable of keeping peace where and as needed; protection of civilians as prescribed
by international humanitarian law;

release of all those in detention, or trial under due process of law and according
to international norms;

multilateral implementation of long-delayed UN Security Council resolutions
for peace in Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including
1559, 1515, 1397, 338, and 242.

Over the past month, the violence in Lebanon and Gaza has reached unprecedented
levels. Its roots are thick and deep. We urge you to find sufficient unity and
political will to contain, to reverse, and to begin to resolve these crises. To a considerable
extent, the prospects of the Lebanese, Israeli and Palestinian peoples are
in your hands.

May God bless you in exercising the responsibility that your governments share
on behalf of the entire United Nations.

Sincerely yours,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary