Palestine Update 335
Churches have vehemently opposed Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’.
Their voices are recorded in statements that were distributed through their constituencies around the world. When progressive voices in the church speak, they send strong signals to the public and greatly enhance public debate and perception in favor of justice for Palestine. It is often dismissed as ant-Semitic propaganda by the Zionists. That, however, is not a fact. The charge of anti-Semitism is usually mere smoke without fire. It is only rash Zionist reaction to criticism of Israel’s unjust policies and practices against the Palestinians. Israel will not endure questions about its unjust laws and unilateral actions even when they run counter to international human rights standards. That is, sadly, the way fascist regimes anywhere operate. The law is simply viewed as a stumbling block to their wayward designs.
Churches everywhere have the compulsion to promote and act in favor of justice because such action belongs in the realm of its prophetic vision and obligation. The signs of increased outspokenness among churches around the world represent their connection to the ethical and theological imperative for a Just Peace. Today we are reminded once again and with greater urgency: “The Palestinian Christians from Gaza to Jerusalem and to Nazareth have called out to their brothers and sisters in Christ with this urgent plea: “Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action.” (WCC International Peace Conference “Churches together for Peace and Justice in the Middle East”)
WCRC calls for a just plan for peace
The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) strongly rejects the Middle East Peace Proposal that has been presented by the Trump Administration and calls for a plan that will take into account all peoples living within the Israeli/Palestinian area as well as displaced refugees. Along with several of our member churches, including the United Church of Christ, Church of Scotland and Presbyterian Church (USA), the WCRC feels that the Trump Administration’s proposal is neither just nor realistic. The proposal, entitled “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of Palestinian and Israeli People,” would allow Israel to annex all its West Bank settlements as well as the Jordan Valley. This reverses both United Nations resolutions and rulings by the International Court of Justice that state these settlements are illegal.
Access to the remaining, scattered pieces of Palestinian territory would be controlled both on the ground and in the air by Israeli forces, leaving little value in the idea of Palestinian statehood. Further, the requirements to this so-called statehood place arduous burdens on the Palestinians and would continue to deny them fundamental political, economic and human rights. Moreover, the proposal would disallow the right of return of Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war as per United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194. The plan nullifies Palestinian claims to Jerusalem and will allow for Israeli control over the city and its surrounding areas denying access and control to the many Muslims and Christians who have been living there for centuries. It is therefore evident that the proposal ignores both Palestinian rights as well as international law and consensus on peace in the Holy Land.
The WCRC is committed to the cause of justice and peace in the Middle East and has been called by its membership to make known the cry of the Palestinian people, especially the Christian community as the “the integrity of Christian faith and praxis is at stake” (Action 55, 2017 General Council). We call on our member churches, the wider Christian community and the international community to pray and work for peace in the Middle East. We further call on Christians and the international community to speak out for the sake of the Palestinian people and make their pain known.
We further call for those member churches and organizations properly placed to actively advocate for a just peace plan to their governments, that takes into consideration international law and the rights of the Palestinian people.
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A Peace Plan that does not bring peace
They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:14)
President Trump’s proposed Middle East ‘peace plan,’ titled “Peace to Prosperity,” 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.
It is for those reasons that the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) calls upon the international community to take up the mantle of brokering an agreement that brings peace and security to Israelis and Palestinians without trampling upon the rights of either.
For many years, the NCC has joined in supporting a two-state solution, the right of refugees to return to their homes, the dismantlement of the settlements, and the establishment of Jerusalem as a shared international city. This latest plan, developed without input from Palestinians, does not move us toward peace or resolve conflict in the region.
In order to be viable, a nation must have contiguous land with populations secure in their borders and in control of their destiny. The current peace deal does not offer this. The illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory has become normative, both Israeli and Palestinian societies have become restive, and the dream of peaceful coexistence side-by-side has all but extinguished. Nothing about the new Trump peace plan breathes life into the hope for justice and peace.
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A diktat on behalf of Israel: Faith leaders and organizations stand up to the U.S. Plan for “Peace to Prosperity.”
Last week the United States issued its “Deal of the Century” for Israel and the Palestinians, titled “Peace to Prosperity.” Faith leaders and church organizations in Palestine, the U.S. and across the world responded immediately with outrage and protest. “An insult to history, humanity, the Palestinian people, and American dignity itself” reads the statement from Kairos Palestine. The Palestine Israel Network of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship put it this way: “This plan is not a peace agreement or even a reasonably framed blueprint for a peace agreement: Palestinians themselves have had no say in its design, and there has been no negotiation between sides. The plan is rather a diktat imposed unilaterally by the United States on behalf of Israel to further Israel’s illegal consolidation of permanent control over