Common Global Ministries Board
April 4-6, 2002
To Endorse the World Council of Churches’
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have endorsed the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) at their 2001 General Synod and General Assembly;
WHEREAS, the WCC and its members have developed the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) to implement 2002 in the DOV as the year to end the violence of occupation in Palestine;
WHEREAS, Palestinian Christians have persisted in expressing the need for an international presence in order to provide faithful solidarity; observe, monitor and report the conflict; and support non-violent resistance to Israel’s occupation;
WHEREAS, this past week has witnessed a massive escalation of the conflict, including aggressive military assaults, successive suicide bombings, isolating, humiliating and attacking Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, and the suffering and death of the innocent, Israelis and Palestinians; and
WHEREAS, the EAPPI, as a global campaign, is a strategy for an alternative to the escalation of violence, and our witness of Accompaniment for the welfare of both communities;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Common Global Ministries Board (CGMB) supports the pursuit of the DOV’s year focusing on Palestine and Israel, to end the occupation that itself results in violence; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CGMB shall endorse the EAPPI and encourage the participation of members of the denominations in it.
Resolution Background: World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)
The time has come for international peacekeepers in Israel and Palestine. Under the policies of Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister, conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) have worsened to desperate levels and Israelis and Palestinians have found themselves as far apart as ever. Now Israel’s full-scale military assault on the Palestinian leadership in the name of its security threatens to plunge the whole region into war.
An ecumenical delegation sent by the World Council of Churches (WCC) to Israel and Occupied Palestine in June 2001 reported on the urgent appeal from Jerusalem church leaders for international “witnesses for peace” in the region. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson, Executive Minister for UCC Justice and Witness Ministries and WCC Central Committee member, was a key participant in these delegations. An international presence is needed, say Palestinian Christians, in order to provide faithful solidarity; observe, monitor and report the conflict; and support non-violent resistance to Israel’s occupation.
Although the US-endorsed Mitchell Committee Report, often cited as the basis for new peace talks, asserts the value of an “International Protection Force,” Israel has resisted international observation and intervention. The US has consequently opposed UN efforts to place monitors in the occupied territories, even while supporting UNSC resolutions calling for Israeli withdrawal from the OPT and the establishment of the Palestinian state.
Therefore the WCC stepped into this vacuum to respond to the pleas of Palestinians under occupation for protection. Building upon church-related solidarity efforts which have already emerged, the WCC developed a program with the goal of accompanying Palestinians under occupation and all those who seek non-violent solutions to the conflict. This global campaign, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), initiates 2002 in the Decade to Overcome Violence as the year to end the violence of occupation in Palestine.
Accompaniment is a model of human rights monitoring and international solidarity with those under political oppression. The global religious community has engaged in similar “witnessing for peace” activities in Central America and South Africa in previous decades. In fact, the EAPPI is modeled after the Ecumenical Monitoring Programme in South Africa (EMPSA), the WCC’s successful anti-Apartheid campaign of the early 1990s. Carefully screened and trained WCC volunteers to the EAPPI would serve in the OPT for roughly three months.
The Middle East and Europe Office of Global Ministries has been actively involved in the international planning with the WCC and US implementation of the EAPPI through the Church World Service and Witness Middle East Forum. Global Ministries, Justice and Witness Ministries, and One Great Hour of Sharing have each contributed $5,000 to the WCC for the EAPPI.