The World Council of Churches (WCC), in the aftermath of brutal violence where thousands of innocent civilians lost their lives, is calling for a new approach to resolve the conflict in the Holy Land. The horrific situation today in Israeli and Palestine, leaving so many dead, thousands injured, many families either displaced or living in shelters, and hundreds held in captivity and prisons is exactly what we all feared would happen.
It is now thirty years since the Oslo agreement was signed. In the meantime, the number of settlements has grown to at least 250 with 800,000 people. Instead of peace we witness more violence, displacement, and war.
The international community must acknowledge the need for a new approach with an end goal of just coexistence. The peace process has failed both peoples, Palestinians and Israelis alike. What is needed is a fresh approach that puts justice and equal human dignity as the basis for the path forward. History has taught us that exploitative agreements that create a semblance of peace do not stand the test of time and lead to bloodshed the type we are witnessing right now.
The Jerusalem Heads of Churches, during the last one year or so, have issued no less than 12 statements calling for an approach based on justice and cautioning that tampering with the religious and historical status quo especially in Jerusalem would lead to violence.
At the World Council of Churches 11th Assembly, the ecumenical church family warned about the existing situation between Israelis and Palestinians. The injustices to the Palestinian cause since 1948 until today have not been really addressed in a manner that fosters the coexistence of both peoples as equals in justice, peace, and reconciliation. Together with our fellowship of churches, we have committed ourselves to closely study other potential options that would guarantee a sustainable and real solution for all parties living and belonging to the same land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea.
Our call is the establishment of clarity regarding a future built on justice instead of military power, where International Law is applied consistently without partiality.
We must reimagine sustainable peace for the region, peace that can withstand the test of time. At the core of such peace is equality and justice. We hope and pray that our call will be heeded; and that Palestinians, Israelis, and the entire Middle East find a new path to peace.
Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay
World Council of Churches