17 US churches and Christian agencies address President-Elect Biden on Israel/Palestine

17 US churches and Christian agencies address President-Elect Biden on Israel/Palestine

In a letter to President-Elect Biden, seventeen US churches and Christian agencies, including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, outline areas of hopes and concerns regarding the situation in Israel/Palestine, and urge the Biden Administration to take steps to work toward peace and justice.  The letter, sent in the midst of the Advent season, sets the context by stating, “While attention is turned toward the ‘little town of Bethlehem,’ the Christian community in Israel/Palestine continues to suffer as a result of the ongoing occupation. As Palestinian Christians continue to emigrate, we face the real prospect that the survival of the indigenous Christian presence in the Holy Land may soon be in danger. By ensuring the U.S. government stands firmly in support of peace and justice for all in the region, your administration can help ensure the Christian community, along with all in the Holy Land, can flourish.”

It continues, stating, “Over the last four years U.S. policy has moved in directions that have alienated the U.S. from many of its international partners and supported the deepening of Israel’s occupation while undermining long term efforts to realize a just and lasting peace. If the U.S. remains committed to realizing peace with justice in Israel and Palestine there is a need for an immediate change in policy and approach when your administration enters office.”

Specifically, the letter asks the incoming Biden Administration to work in six specific areas to:

  1. Ensure that all parties are respected and included in negotiations towards a just and lasting peace based on international law;
  2. Restate the US position that settlements are illegal under international law and take action to ensure that any further Israeli settlement construction and growth results in political consequences;
  3. Resume funding to the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and other UN and humanitarian actors working in the West Bank and Gaza;
  4. Ensure accountability
  5. Reiterate the U.S. position that territory controlled by Israel as a result of the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, are occupied territories subject to international law and are not recognized parts of Israel; and
  6. Make clear that criticism of Israel, including support for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions actions, is protected and legitimate speech.

The letter concludes, “As Christian churches and organizations in the United States, we strongly urge you to pursue engagement in honest, credible, and serious efforts with Palestinians, Israelis, regional parties, and the international community, to seek a just and lasting peace…. And we pray that we may soon join you in celebrating a region where all are at peace and enjoy their rights and liberties without regard to race, ethnicity, or creed.”

Click here to access the full letter.