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Statement on the War in Lebanon and Northern Israel, and Ecumenical

06 September 2006

WCC Central Committee, Geneva, 30 August-6 September, 2006



The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Geneva,
30 August to 6 September, 2006:

Expressing shock and profound sorrow at the suffering and loss of life inflicted on
people across Lebanon and in neighbouring areas of Israel during the recent war;

Deploring the fact that this eminently avoidable conflict took place, was waged
with illegal and disproportionate use of military force, and was prolonged by the
failure of leadership at the highest levels of the international community to stop
the conflict;

Recalling church warnings from the outset on the imperatives of an early ceasefire,
that all parties meet their obligations under international law including the
responsibility to protect civilians, that all detainees be released or provided a fair
trial, and that Israel lift its blockade of Lebanon (WCC General Secretary, 13 July,
2006) and noting that none of these widely supported goals have been met promptly
or completely;

Reiterating the need for churches to aid those affected by the war and to take specific
advocacy measures to end conflict (WCC Pastoral Letter to Member Churches,
21 July, 2006);

Noting the public call for leading nations to end the paralysis at the UN Security
Council, the undermining of the UN Charter and acquiescence in the disproportionate
violence over Lebanon, (WCC General Secretary, 3 August, 2006);

Repeating the need for all parties to the violence and for the United States, the
European Union and the Arab states to exert their influence towards a sustainable
ceasefire and then to work for a lasting peace (WCC, LWF, WARC Joint
Appeal, 8 August, 2006);

Reiterating our call to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council
to finally implement the Council's long-standing resolutions both for Lebanon
and for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories because "fault lines of instability
now run right through the region" and because "it is no longer credible to
act as if segmented or unilateral plans will work in isolation". (WCC General
Secretary, 21 July, 2006);

Seeing this war for what it was: aside from combatants on both sides 43 civilians
dead in Israel and more than 1,100 civilians dead in Lebanon with one-third of
them children, more than 4,400 civilians wounded, and tens of thousands of homes
destroyed with the vast majority of this destruction taking place in Lebanon;
attacks by the Hezbollah militia on civilian areas of northern Israel causing deaths,
injuries and destruction; widespread fear and trauma among non-combatants;
other grave consequences in Lebanon, namely, a million people displaced, scores
of bridges, roads and runways damaged, and fuel, water and electricity infrastructure
destroyed;

Alarmed at violations of international law on armed conflict by the combatants
in this war and by the international community's failure to ensure the protection
of civilians and the proportionate use of military force; by the Israeli military's
extensive use of cluster munitions in south Lebanon, particularly when a ceasefire
was already imminent, leaving tens of thousands of unexploded sub-munitions
highly dangerous to returning civilians; and by the erosion of international
humanitarian and human rights law through chronic denials that illegal and
immoral actions have taken place;

Pledging to respond to the message from churches in Beirut and Jerusalem relayed
by the visiting ecumenical delegation during the war to sister churches around
the world: "Do not only pray for us - act!" (WCC, Conference of European Churches,
Lutheran World Federation and World Alliance of Reformed Churches, 16 August,
2006); churches, other civil society groups and a number of governments are eager
to see a radical re-engagement by the international community in peaceful and
equitable resolutions of the conflict in Lebanon and related conflicts in the Middle
East. We share that hope and are pledging to undertake a new initiative ourselves.

Accordingly, the WCC Central Committee:

• Calls for a sustainable and unconditional ceasefire, and lifting of the blockade
of Lebanon;

• Recommends that churches support the Lebanon appeal of ACT International
and commends all those who are assisting the war's victims, the United Nations,
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, for monitoring violations
of international law during the conflict, and the Government of Sweden for
hosting a donors meeting on Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories;

• Urges the United Nations to establish an international inquiry to investigate
violations of international law, including possible war crimes, and the transfer
of arms used in violations of human rights during the recent Lebanon-Israel
conflict;

• Calls on the governments that supplied arms to the combatants to suspend
transfers of arms and related material to Israel and Hezbollah pending the
results of such an investigation, and for those who have used cluster munitions
in Lebanon to provide detailed information on the locations, quantity and types
of cluster munitions used;

• Insists on the release of all detainees, or bringing them to trial under due
process of law and according to international norms, in Lebanon, Israel and the
Occupied Palestinian Territories;

• Calls upon the UN Security Council to implement the Council's long-standing
resolutions for peace in Lebanon and in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian
Territories, including an end to the illegal 39-year occupation that is the vortex
of the region's violent storms;

• Endorses the proposal for establishing a Palestine/Israel Ecumenical Forum
under the auspices of the WCC as the cornerstone of a comprehensive ecumenical
advocacy initiative on the Middle East; and calls WCC governing bodies,
member churches and ecumenical partners to enlist energy and resources in
these plans. The forum would catalyze and coordinate new and existing church
advocacy for peace, aim at ending the illegal occupation in accordance with
UN resolutions, be inter-disciplinary in deliberation and practice, and demonstrate
its commitment to inter-religious action for peace and to justice that
serves all peoples of the region.

May we together satisfy the hopes of suffering communities and churches. May
we together bear witness to God's abiding love for all people. May a united ecumenical
community - in prayer and action - make a new and substantial contribution
to peace with justice in the Middle East.