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WCC expresses condolences for Arafat, hopes for justice with peace

11 November 2004

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed its condolences to the Palestinian people following the death of the president of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat.

In a letter sent to the Palestinian Prime Minister Mr Ahmad Qurei’ by the director of the WCC’s International Affairs Commission, Mr Peter Weiderud, the WCC recognises the commitment of the Palestinian leader to upholding the place of both Christians and Muslims in Palestinian society, as “participants in its affairs and as shapers of its future”.

The WCC also noted that the “long road” to Palestinian statehood is not completed, and emphasized that “true justice embraces peace, security and hope for both Palestinians and Israelis”.

The WCC reiterated its commitment to work in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the future. The organization, which is the largest inter-church body in the world, has been at the forefront of ecumenical efforts to promote lasting peace for all peoples in the region.

The full text of the letter is given below:

Your Excellency,

On the sad occasion of the death of President Yasser Arafat, we extend our condolences to the Palestinian people and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. We also ask God’s comfort for the members of his family in this time of deep grief.

President Arafat will be remembered for bringing the Palestinian people together and for his unique and tenacious contribution to the cause of establishing their national home.

We stand with the Churches of the Holy Land to honour his commitment to their place in the Palestinian society, its affairs and its future. President Arafat often made sure to mention the church as well as the mosque as core institutions of Palestinian national life. True to the customs of mutual respect among his diverse people, he celebrated Christmas with the churches of Bethlehem as circumstances permitted.

On his long road as a leader, Yasser Arafat came to the recognition that true justice embraces peace, security and hope for both Palestinians and Israelis. His path has now ended, amid the rocks and thorns of occupation, at a distance from the goal he sought. As he is laid to rest the world will see - from the location of his final resting place - how far the Palestinian people must still travel together.

In solidarity with the Palestinian people, the World Council of Churches will continue to work for human rights, sustainable livelihoods, medical care and basic freedoms, in the days and years that lie ahead and until there is peace.

Yours truly,

Peter Weiderud


Commission of the Churches on International Affairs

World Council of Churches