Churches worldwide have been releasing their official reactions to the proposal by US president Trump and Israeli prime minister Netanyahu for dividing up Palestine and Israel.
On 30 January, the patriarchs and heads of the Holy Land churches issued a statement on the proposal, now popularly known as the “Deal of the Century.”
The patriarchs and heads of the Holy Land churches affirmed their strong devotion to achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on the international legitimacy and the relevant UN resolutions and in a manner that guarantees security, peace, freedom and dignity to all of the peoples of the region.
"The American peace plan that was announced yesterday in the White House, in the presence of the Israelis and the absence of the Palestinians, invites us to request from the U.S. administration as well as the international community to build on the vision of two states and develop it in line with international legitimacy in addition to opening a political communication channel with the Palestine Liberation Organization, the internationally recognized sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, to ensure that its legitimate national aspirations are also satisfied within the framework of a comprehensive and durable peace plan to be accepted by all relevant parties,” reads the statement. “The resurrection of our Lord from Jerusalem reminds us all of the sacrifices to ensure justice and peace in the Holy Land.”
The secretary general of the Middle East Council of Churches, Dr Souraya Bechealany, took a firm stance against the “Deal of the Century,” stressing that the Palestinian cause is a rightful cause and addressing it through bargaining and trade-offs is unacceptable. "Since 1948, the Palestinian people have been bleeding and the Middle East has been staggering under the weight of conflicts and wars,” said Bechealany. “Now is the time to achieve peace, a true peace based on justice away from unilateral decisions that flout the relevant UN resolutions.”
Leaders of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) released a statement on 31 January expressing grave concern. “We do not read the 181-page proposal as either realistic or just,” reads the statement. “We fear for its devastatingly deleterious effects on Palestinian rights, for its implications for international law and institutions, and for the possible consequences on the people living in an already untenable circumstance.”
The National Council of Churches (USA) also criticized the plan. ”Rather than mapping out an authentic Palestinian state, the architects of the plan have put forth a map recognizing Israeli-imposed 'facts on the ground’ and granting Palestinians the remaining pockmarked non-contiguous territory, which resembles a block of Swiss cheese more than a nation-state,” stated the council. “President Trump’s proposed Middle East ‘peace plan’ will not bring peace nor is it a realistic plan. Instead, his proposal - formulated with Israel without Palestinian participation - ensures violence, continued animosity, and further encroachment by Israel on land that belongs to the people of Palestine.”