World Council of Churches

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

The escalation of the Israel/Palestine conflict

30 June 2006

Letter to H.E. Mr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority,
H.E. Mr Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, and to the Middle East Quartet*,
30 June, 2006

* H.E. Dr Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State; H.E. Mr Javier Solana,
High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of the Council
of the European Union; H.E. Mr Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation;
H.E. Mr Agboola Gambari, Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, UN Department of Political
Affairs; H.E. Mr James D. Wolfensohn, Middle East Quartet Special Envoy for Disengagement,
Jerusalem.

Your Excellencies,The World Council of Churches is deeply distressed with the current escalationof the Israel/Palestine conflict. The WCC Executive Committee meeting on19th May in Geneva was apprehensive of such a development when it said: "TheTime Is Ripe to Do What Is Right". It called on all parties including the internationalcommunity to change course and abandon all unilateral, aggressive actionsand instead make recourse to equitable negotiations. The Executive Committeefears have now come true. The unwarranted upsurge in violence, if allowed tocontinue, will only add to untold sufferings of the Palestinian people, the primaryvictims of this ongoing conflict.The WCC, as a matter of policy, denounces and repudiates the use of violenceto resolve differences and conflicts. As advised by the leadership of the internationalcommunity, including the call by the Secretary General of the UnitedNations, Kofi Annan, for a negotiated settlement, Israel must exercise restraintto allow negotiations to work their way through. Retaliatory measures in the formof punishments that largely impact on the lives of common Palestinian peopleare not going to resolve the problem. On the contrary, this is likely to result infurther embitterment and hate.It is indeed unfortunate that the arrest of the Hamas political leaders comes atthe time when the Fatah and Hamas movements have reached an agreement ona common platform that would allow them to form a new government and movetowards a negotiated solution.We therefore, once again and with renewed urgency, call upon the internationalcommunity, especially the Quartet, and make a special appeal to the UN totake bold and novel actions to uphold international law and break the viciouscycle of violence. While we recognize that Israel has the right to ensure securityfor all its citizens, we nevertheless call on the Israeli Government to refrain fromusing excessive military force and immediately open equitable negotiations tofind a permanent solution through ending the illegal occupation and securing ajust peace. The Palestinian leadership should also continue to seek a platform forequitable negotiations and hold to the one-party ceasefire and a diplomatic solution.The kidnapped Israeli soldier and the detained Hamas political leadership mustbe released and the Operation Summer Rain stopped. Internationally guaranteedand supervised talks must begin immediately, for the sake of the people of Israeland for the sake of the Palestinian people so that the long elusive peace with justicecan prevail.Our call is born of the moral and ethical imperative to end violence and seekthe well-being of people as the God of Life urges us to do.Sincerely yours,Rev. Dr Samuel KobiaGeneral Secretary