World Council of Churches
Bossey, Switzerland

20-26 November 2019
Doc. No.

Minute on the legality of Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory

The World Council of Churches has repeatedly affirmed its opposition to the establishment and expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, both on the basis that such settlements are in clear violation of international humanitarian law, and because they pose a serious obstacle to the realization of a viable two-state solution and a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The executive committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, on 20-26 November 2019, strongly reaffirms this position.

The executive committee deeply regrets the United States’ announcement on 18 November that it no longer view settlements as inconsistent with international law. This announcement reverses longstanding US government policy, and puts the US at direct odds with the vast weight of international legal opinion and with the long-established policy of the international community through the United Nations.

The World Council of Churches rejects this new position as both wrong in law and inimical to the pursuit of a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis. It seriously undermines remaining hopes for progress towards a two-state solution, the best and only viable path to achieving a sustainable peace founded upon recognition of the equal right of self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians.

In this regard, the WCC strongly aligns itself with the position expressed by Pope Francis and the Holy See, and agree that this unfortunate decision risks undermining further the Israeli- Palestinian peace process and the already fragile regional stability. Together with the Holy See, we support the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security within the borders recognised by the international community, and equally recognize and support the same right for the Palestinian people.