UCC General Resolutions on Israel/Palestine
- 1967 General Synod Resolution: On the Middle East Situation
- 1969 General Synod Resolution: On the Middle East situation
- 1971 General Synod Resolution: The Middle East
- 1973 Executive Council Resolution: Middle East Situation
- 1979 General Synod Action: Communication to Presidents Sadat, Begin, and Carter
- 1979 General Synod Resolution: Overture on Consultation on the Future of the City of Jerusalem
- 1987 General Synod Resolution: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
- 1989 General Synod Resolution: On the Middle East
- 1991 General Synod Resolution: Consequences of the Persian Gulf War for a Just Peace Church
- 1991 General Synod Resolution: Support for the Men and Women of our Armed Forces
- 1993 General Synod Resolution: Urging Reopening of East Jerusalem
- 1997 General Synod Resolution: Jerusalem City of Life
- 1997 General Synod Resolution: Palestine/Israel
- 1999 General Synod Resolution: Bringing Justice and Peace to The Middle East
- 2003 General Synod Resolution: An Alternative Voice to Christian Zionism
- 2005 General Synod Resolution: Concerning Use of Economic Leverage in Promoting Peace in the Middle East
- 2005 General Synod Resolution: Tear Down the Wall
- 2007 Executive Council action on referred resolution “In Support of a Renewed and Balanced Study and Response to the Conflict Between Palestine and Israel”
- 2013 Executive Council action on reports of implementation of 2005 “Economic Leverage” resolution
- 2015 General Synod Resolution: A Call for the United Church of Christ to Take Actions Toward a Just Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
- 2017 General Synod Resolution: A Call for the United Church of Christ to Advocate for the Rights of Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation
- 2019 General Synod Resolution: Addressing the State of Global Forced Migration [including rights of Palestinian refugees]
- 2021 General Synod Resolution: Declaration for a Just Peace between Palestine and Israel (as adopted; final ratification of General Synod minutes by UCC Board pending)
Mr. Flucke, chairman of the Executive Committee, presented a Resolution and it was 67-GS-94 VOTED: That the General Synod of the United Church of Christ call upon the government of the United States to use its good offices and to do what lies in its power to bring about a permanent peace in the Middle East and to assure just treatment for the Arab refugees and relief of their suffering. The General Synod calls upon the churches and members of the United Church of Christ to support these efforts.
United Church of Christ, “Minutes Seventh General Synod, Boston, Massachusetts, June 25-July 2, 1969.” Edited by Joseph H. Evans and Robert F. R. Peters. 69-GS-135 ‘ “International Relations,” pp. 127-128. Reproduced from the General Synod Collection, United Church of Christ Archives.
The Seventh General Synod was called to order at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2, 1969, by Moderator Daniels. He recognized Mrs. Kahlenberg, Chairman of the Business Committee, who announced time limits for debate.
2. Further Action on the Report on the Council for Christian Social Action
3. The General Synod authorizes the Council for Christian Social Action to bring to the attention of congregations a program of education and action on the Middle East dispute.
71-GS-43 VOTED: The Eighth General Synod adopts the following goal and objectives under the title, “The Middle East,” for the priority, “Peace and United States Power.”
Goal. To have members of the United Church of Christ understand the needs and aspirations of the Israeli and Arab, particularly Palestinian, peoples, and the issues that divide them, to be sympathetic to all sides and to assist in the achievement of a negotiated peace.
Objective 1. To establish procedures throughout the United Church to help members understand the history of The Middle East and the causes and forces that dominate the area and to develop public support for United Nations, and United States government action that will safeguard the aspirations and interests of the people directly affected by The Middle East conflict.
Objective 2. To continue present support for programs of relief and rehabilitation for Arab refugees in co-operation with sister churches in The Middle East and to respond to the call of those churches for a program of information and interpretation concerning the cause of the refugee problem.
Objective 3. To support those policies of the United States Government which decrease the element of great power rivalry or conflict in The Middle East, recognizing at the same time that all the great powers consider that they have legitimate national interests in the area stemming from a variety of factors: geographic, strategic, and economic.
United Church of Christ, “Minutes of the Executive Council, October 28-31, ” Vote 73-10-EC-7 & -8, “Middle East Situation,” p. 9 & attachment. Reproduced from the Executive Council Collection, United Church of Christ Archives.
Vice-chairperson Washburn assumed the chair and called for the recommendation of the Administrative Committee on the resolution concerning the Middle East situation. On behalf of the Administrative Committee, the Rev. Theodore S. Ledbetter proposed a resolution on the Middle East and it was
VOTED: The Executive Council approves consideration of the resolution on the Middle East. Vote 73 10 EC 7
There was discussion and after editorial changes, it was
VOTED: The Executive Council adopts the resolution concerning the Middle East. (See resolution attached.) Vote 73 10 EC 8
Mr. Ledbetter, on behalf of the Administrative Committee, presented an amendment to Standing Rule, I.1, creating a Steering Committee of the Executive Council.
1973 General Synod Resolution Concerning the Middle East
The tragedy and human loss caused by the 4th Middle East conflict within three decades stands as a judgment upon us all. Time and again opportunities for justice and reconciliation have been neglected or ignored by the parties involved, by the big powers and even by groups dedicated to justice and peace. The churches share the responsibility for this lack of concern and action.
Therefore, the Executive Council of the UCC:
Welcomes the actions of the UN Security Council in calling for an end to the hostilities and prays that the parties concerned will act in accord with the UN resolutions of October 21, 23 and 25, 1973;
Expresses appreciation for the active initiatives of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. in bringing about a cessation of hostilities and in maintaining a spirit of détente and avoiding a serious confrontation;
Deplores the way in which the great powers are using this regional conflict as a testing ground for weaponry;
Joins the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches in their efforts to help establish peace in the Middle East;
Believes that peace and security can be attained only through a just and stable political settlement that takes into account the legitimate aspirations of all the peoples in the area and, particularly, the right to existence of the State of Israel and the rights of the Palestinian Arabs;
Reaffirms the proposal presented to the 9th General Synod of the UCC and referred by it to the Inter-Instrumentality Peace and U.S. Power Task Force which calls upon the United Church of Christ to:
- Study the contemporary as well as the biblical Middle East;
- See that members of our churches are informed;
- Maintain close contact with the NCCCUSA and WCC;
- Welcome the opportunity for inter-faith dialogue, both with Jews and Muslims;
Challenges the members of the United Church of Christ to take seriously the opportunities now before us to become instruments of shalom-sala’am-peace for the Middle East and the whole world.
15. Communication to Presidents Sadat, Begin, and Carter
The Moderator recognized the Rev. Evelyn Dickerson (IL) who moved to suspend the Standing Rules to enable the General Synod to act on a communication to Presidents Sadat, Begin, and Carter, and it was
79-GS-92 VOTED: the Twelfth General Synod suspends the Standing Rules to consider a communication to Presidents Sadat, Begin, and Carter.
The Moderator recognized Mr. Fred Abben (IL) who moved that communication to Presidents Sadat, Begin and Carter be adopted, and it was.
79-GS-93 VOTED: the Twelfth General Synod adopts the communication to Presidents Sadat, Begin and Carter:
Communication to Presidents Sadat, Begin, and Carter
The Twelfth General Synod of the United Church of Christ, meeting as Christians of the New World in Indianapolis, Indiana, sends you our thanksgiving for the steps toward peace which you have taken.
We honor you, President Sadat, for your courageous initiative in the midst of a threatening world…
We commend you, President Begin, for your sympathetic vision in the midst of ancient traditions…
And we thank you, President Carter, for your determined perseverance in the midst of repeated disappointments.
Our prayers from the people of the world rise in unison for peace. May you be sustained.
20. Consultation on the future of the city of Jerusalem
The Moderator recognized Mrs. Marilyn Briggs (MA), Chairperson of Section C, for a continuation of the Section report. Mrs. Briggs referred the delegates to Advance Materials, Section III, pages 24-25, and moved the adoption of the Overture on Consultation on the Future of the City of Jerusalem. She called on the Rev. James Dewey (IK) to speak to the Overture. Mr. Dewey said that the primary concern of the Overture is to support peace for the city of Jerusalem, a city of great historical and religious significance. There was discussion.
The Rev. Kendall C. Baker (SW) was recognized and moved to amend the Overture by referring it to the Council on Ecumenism for consideration and report, with recommendations, to the Executive Council. There was discussion and upon being put to a vote the Moderator declared the motion was lost. It was
79-GS-78 VOTED: the Twelfth General Synod adopts the Overture on Consultation on the Future of the City of Jerusalem. Consultation on the Future of the City of Jerusalem.
The signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, hopeful as that is in the eyes of many, is at best a beginning with many obstacles remaining.
One very big obstacle is the sharply opposing positions among the nations most concerned about Jerusalem, with its shrines and holy places considered sacred by three major faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the divided opinions have both political and religious roots.
Because of the religious aspects of this problem, we hope we are right in believing that negotiations and consultations concerning this problem could properly involve these faith groups.
The UCC through its Board for World Ministries has had mission work in the region for many years, and recently has been involved in some Christian-Muslim dialogue, though not specifically about the Jerusalem problem.
We believe that exploratory consultations by leaders of the three faiths most deeply involved might contribute to peaceful Resolution of the problem.
WHERAS, a promising beginning of the journey toward a just and lasting peace in The Middle East has been made in the March 26, 1979, signing of the treaty between Egypt and Israel; and
WHEREAS, one of the major issues concerns the City of Jerusalem, its shrines and holy places of three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and the jurisdiction over them, so that religious issues are intertwined with political ones;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Twelfth General Synod requests the President of the United Church of Christ, and the United Church Board for World Ministries to work through leaders of the World Council of Churches to initiate action to involve Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders in consultations to examine the issue of the City of Jerusalem, its shrines and holy places held sacred by the people of these faiths, and especially the political connection and jurisdiction most conductive to the peace of the region.
Rev. Ruth Powell, Chairperson of Committee 25, expressed her appreciation for the work of the committee, and described their work of consolidation. She moved a new Resolution which was recommended by her committee and spoke to the motion which was discussed. After discussion it was
87-GS-86 VOTED: The Sixteenth General Synod adopts the Resolution “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Biblical and Theological Foundations
The United Church of Christ affirms the Biblical and Theological Foundations of the Just Peace Church Pronouncement of the Fifteenth General Synod:
A Just Peace is grounded in the ministry of reconciliation. The Church is thus an alternative to those forces which divide, which perpetrate human enmity and injustice, which destroy. As Christians, we offer this conviction to the world: peace is possible.
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ long has been concerned with the self-determination of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and has previously condemned “anti-Semitism in all its forms;” and
WHEREAS, the United Church Board for World Ministries has developed a study packet on The Middle East entitled “In Search of Reconciliation,” and an OCIS-UCBWM Human Rights Fact-Finding group has produced a Report on Human Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories; and
WHEREAS, Christians, Muslims and Jews often hold distorted images of one another and treat one another with contempt or hatred to the point of violence and oppression, and as this has fostered hatred of Islam as in the crusades and anti-Semitism as in the Holocaust; and
WHEREAS, peace in The Middle East is essential for the future of Israel, for the Palestinians and the Arab states, and for the whole world; and
WHEREAS, it is time to end the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Sixteenth General Synod calls upon all congregations of the United Church of Christ to engage in study and action utilizing the United Church Board for World Ministries Middle East Study Packet “In Search of Reconciliation” and the “United Church of Christ Human Rights Study Tour Report;” and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Sixteenth General Synod requests that the United Church Board for World Ministries provide personnel and resources to our ecumenical partners and partner Christian denominations in this area as they continue their ministries of reconciliation in the very shadow of the Cross; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Sixteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ joins with the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in The Middle East, an organization of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, in affirming the following statement, entitled, “A Time for Peace in The Middle East;” and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Sixteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ requests that the office for Church and Society give careful attention to representing these concerns to the government of the United States.
A Time for Peace in The Middle East
(Statement Adopted June 11, 1987 at the National Meeting of the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in The Middle East in Arlington, Virginia)
Peace in The Middle East is essential for the future of Israel, for the Palestinians and Arab states, and for the whole world. But the promise of peace remains unfulfilled. There is daily suffering and danger of greater violence and another war if there is no peace.
WE JEWS, CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS SAY – IN THE NAME of GOD, COMPASSIONATE AND JUST – IT IS TIME FOR PEACE. We are motivated by our deepest religious convictions. Working for peace is not optional: it is fundamental to our faith.
It is time to end the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is time for all parties to stop terror and violence. Peace cannot be achieved by force. It can only be achieved by negotiations. IT IS TIME FOR PEACE.
WE CALL UPON OUR OWN UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TO MAKE PEACE A PRIORITY and use diplomacy to promote negotiations for a just peace based on the following:
Israel’s RIGHT TO SECURE BORDERS AND PEACE WITH HER NEIGHBORS, as an expression of the Jewish people’s right of self-determination. The principles embodied in U.N.Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 provide an agreed upon formula to achieve security and peace for all states in the area in exchange for withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war.
THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE’S RIGHT of SELF-DETERMINATION, including the right to choose their own independent leadership, is equally essential to peace. Evidence that Palestinians are willing to exercise their right of self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel, encourages prospects for peace.
THE NEED FOR AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR PEACE: the complexity of the conflict and the important interests of many countries in The Middle East require an international conference, involving all parties in the conflict as well as the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
Jerusalem is of vital significance to Israelis and Palestinians, to Jews, Christians and Muslims. We believe negotiations, rather than unilateral action, can help assure that Jerusalem will be a city of peace.
PEACE IN The Middle East IS POSSIBLE. NOW IS THE TIME FOR PEACE! SHALOM – PEACE – SALAAM.
United Church of Christ, “Minutes Seventeenth General Synod, Fort Worth, Texas, June 29 – July 4, 1989.” Edited by Carol Joyce Brun and Florence Coppola. 89-GS-70, Resolution “The Middle East,” p. 69. Reproduced from the General Synod Collection, United Church of Christ Archives.
7. RESOLUTION ‘THE MIDDLE EAST”
Assistant Moderator David Gerth introduced Ms. Susan Adams (MINN) of Committee Nine, who moved the adoption of the Resolution developed from that committee “The Middle East.”
The Rev. Nariya Karjian (PC) moved to amend the Resolution.
89-GS-69 VOTED: The 17th General Synod amends the Resolution “The Middle East” by deleting after “independent State” the words “pledged to live in peace with Israel,” in paragraph seven of the “Therefore, Be It Resolved” section.
89-GS-70 VOTED: The 17th General Synod adopts the Resolution “The Middle East,” as amended.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Theological Rationale and Background.
God calls the people of God to witness to justice and peace. Peace and justice go together; there is no justice without peace and no peace without justice.
God calls the people of God to be agents of reconciliation, breaking down walls of division nationally, culturally, racially and religiously (Eph. 2:11-18).
God calls the people of God to be a new creation, restoring the original creation and bringing to birth new ways of relating to one another that honor the image of God within us.
As a people of faith—whose Statement of Mission calls us “to hear and give voice to Creation’s cry for justice and peace…to repent our silence and complicity with the forces of chaos and death…to join oppressed and troubled people in the struggle for liberation; to work for justice, healing and wholeness of life”—we recognize that working for peace is not optional but is fundamental to the faith of Muslims, Jews and Christians.
The 15th General Synod pronounced the United Church of Christ a Just Peace Church, grounded in a ministry of reconciliation. The United Church of Christ participates in the work of Churches for Middle East Peace and supports the work of the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace ion the Middle East.
Peace in the Middle East is essential for the future of Israel, for the Palestinian and Arab states, and for the whole world. Peace cannot be achieved by force. It can only be achieved by negotiations.
Text of the Resolution
WHEREAS, we are conscious of the immense suffering of the Jewish people throughout the ages and in modern time, and also of the great suffering of the Palestinian people, especially in recent times;
WHEREAS, Israel has a right to secure borders and peace with her neighbors as an expression of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination;
WHEREAS, the Palestinian people have a right to sovereignty and self-determination, including the right to choose their own independent leadership;
WHEREAS, the time has certainly come to establish a just peace of mutual recognition and basic human rights on the part of both peoples;
WHEREAS, the Palestine National Council on November 15, 1988 declared its acceptance of a two state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, thus meeting the United States’ conditions for a dialogue between the United States government and the P.L.O.;
WHEREAS, the United States government is a major economic and diplomatic force in the Middle East with obvious military implications, and
WHEREAS, there is ignorance of the facts and subtleties of the Middle East conflict due to the complexity of the issues;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the 17th General Synod of the United Church of Christ:
Urges the United Church Board for World Ministries and the Office for Church in Society to develop study materials and educational experiences that will help the church at every level learn “the things which make for peace” in Israel and Palestine;
Calls upon the United Church Board for World Ministries and the Office for Church in Society to form a broad-based task force to prepare a pronouncement and proposal for action on peace in the Middle East to be brought before the Eighteenth General Synod.
Requests members of the local churches of the United Church of Christ to join the U.S. Interreligious Committee on Peace in the Middle East.
Calls upon the United States government to cooperate with the U.S.S.R. and other governments to eliminate further military aid and military intervention in the Middle East.
Urges the United States government to continue its commitment to human rights for all people in both Israel and Palestine;
Calls upon the United States government to broaden and deepen its dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization;
Calls upon the United States government to work with all parties to eliminate the violence and to declare support for the Palestinians’ right of self-determination in an independent state, and
Calls upon the United States government to promote negotiations, under the auspices of the United Nations, for a just peace in the Middle East by all parties to the conflict. Each party shall determine its representatives without conditions set by any other party.
Financial Implications: Subject to availability of funds.
United Church of Christ, “Minutes Eighteenth General Synod, Norfolk, Virginia, June 27-July 2, 1991.”
Edited by Carol Joyce Brun and Linda Lawrence. 91-GS-63 Resolution ‘Consequences of the Persian Gulf War for a Just Peace Church,’ p. 69-70. Reproduced from the General Synod Collection, United Church of Christ Archives.
13. RESOLUTION “CONSEQUENCES OF THE PERSIAN GULF WAR FOR A JUST PEACE CHURCH”
Moderator Gosselink invited the Rev. Peter Young (ND), chair of Committee 19, to offer consideration of the Resolution “Consequences of the Persian Gulf War for a Just Peace Church.” He asked that Mr. Dale Bishop, United Church Board for World Ministries, be allowed to have voice without vote to speak to this issue. It was allowed by consensus. He spoke briefly about the dire situation facing the people of Iraq where the infrastructure of the country has been destroyed.
Mr. H. Benjamin Bullard (CONN) offered as a friendly amendment to be added to the very end of the resolution the words “It recommends that an effective way to do this is for members to sign this resolution and present it to their congressional representative.” It was accepted.
Ms. Diane Ranney (MASS) moved to amend the resolution. The amendment was passed.
91-GS-62 VOTED: The Eighteenth General Synod amends the Resolution “Consequences of the Persian Gulf War for a Just Peace Church” by adding a paragraph: “Be it further resolved” the words “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED” the Eighteenth General Synod requests our President, Paul Sherry, to communicate with the President of the United States, George Bush, demanding that our country use all available resources, both governmental and private to rebuild immediately the civilian infrastructure of Iraq destroyed by our military in the Persian Gulf War.
91-GS-63 Voted: The Eighteenth General Synod adopts the Resolution “Consequences of the Persian Gulf War for a Just Peach Church,” as amended.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE PERSIAN GULF WAR FOR A JUST PEACE CHURCH
Background and Theological Rationale
Feeling the pain and hopes of our times, and moved by the power of the Holy Spirit, successive General Synods of the United Church of Christ have asserted that we are a Just Peace Church. The recent Persian Gulf War, which devastated Kuwait and Iraq, killed in excess of 150,000 persons, left millions homeless, increased economic disparities, and deepened religious and national animosities in the Middle East, dramatizes the urgency of Christ’s call for us to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9).
Being peacemakers demands the seeking of God’s realm, the striving for justice and the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18, Micah 6:8, Amos 5:24). Working for Just Peace is not optional but fundamental to the faith of Muslims, Jews and Christians.
In the Middle East today, peace requires stability. Any hope for a long term peace requires the building of friendships, the seeking of reconciliation between estranged and alienated peoples, and a reduction of incentive for using military solutions.
Above all peace means striving for justice, economically, politically and socially, addressing the disparity of wealth in the region and recognizing the national aspirations of the different groups.
We are a people of faith—whose Statement of Mission calls us “to hear and give voice to Creation’s cry for justice and peace…to repent our silence and complicity with the forces of chaos and death.”
WHEREAS, the Fifteenth General Synod affirmed the United Church of Christ as a Just Peace Church, committed to friendship, justice and common security from violence, and further declared that war must be eliminated as an instrument of national policy.
WHEREAS, the Seventeenth General Synod called for negotiations for a Just Peace in the Middle East, and United Church of Christ partner churches in Jerusalem have called upon Christians throughout the world to support them in working to bring both Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table;
WHEREAS, the Executive Council voted to encourage “interfaith dialogue among Jews, Muslims and Christians as fundamental to working out a lasting peace with justice in the Middle East” in their vote on March 3, 1991 (91-3-EC-80);
WHEREAS, the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in August, 1990 was in violation of international law;
WHEREAS, although military force achieved short-term objectives with relatively small American losses, the longer term aims of justice, peace, democracy, and security for the region are as remote as ever; and
WHEREAS, the Persian Gulf War resulted in the death of over 150,000 people, as well as ongoing suffering and death in the aftermath, tragic disruption of millions of lives, and pollution of the environment.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ, recognizing anew as a result of the Persian Gulf War the imperative for a stable, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East on terms acceptable to the peoples of the region, urges the United States Administration and all other parties concerned to pursue efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the legitimate clams of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples—as expressed in the U.N. Security Council resolutions number 242 and 338, which call upon Israel to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967 and to affirm the right for all states, including Israel, to live peacefully within the recognized boundaries—calls upon all members of the United Church of Christ to support and encourage policies which reflect this solution.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod condemns all incidents of discrimination against persons of Arab origin which occurred as a result of the Gulf War, affirms the need for a more informed understanding by Americans of the history, culture, problems, and aspirations of all the peoples of the Middle East, and encourages instrumentalities, conferences, congregations and members of the United Church of Christ to take initiatives to develop such understanding and to overcome the hostile and unsympathetic images of Middle Eastern people which are commonly expressed.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod urges the United States administration to restore and nurture peaceful and constructive relationships with all countries in the Middle East, including those with which diplomatic relationships have been broken, such as Iraq and Iran, and to limit the delivery of arms to the Middle East.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod urges the United States administration to work with the United Nations Security Council to lift non-military sanctions against Iraq, to enable Iraq to undertake the enormous task of relief and reconstruction especially the critical public health needs now confronting their population.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod rejects the interpretation of the Persian Gulf War as a just war, and urges the United States administration and Congress to cooperate in the resolution of international disputes by active negotiation among the parties concerned and, where necessary, by economic sanctions.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod requests our President, Paul Sherry, to communicate with the President of the United States, George Bush, demanding that our country use all available resources, both governmental and private to rebuild immediately the civilian infrastructure of Iraq, destroyed by our military in the Persian Gulf War.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod calls for continued coordinated efforts of all expressions of the United Church of Christ to more effectively and consistently work for a Just Peace in the Middle East. It recommends that an effective way to do this is for members to sign this resolution and present it to their congressional representatives.
14. RESOLUTION “SUPPORT FOR THE MEN AND WOMEN OF OUR ARMED FORCES”
The Moderator asked Mr. Peter Young to give the rest of his report. He moved the adoption of the Resolution “Supporting for the Men and Women of Our Armed Forces.”
Ms. Judith Brain (MASS) moved to amend the resolution.
91-GS-64 VOTED: The Eighteenth General Synod amends, “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Eighteenth General Synod urges chaplains, churches and conferences to give pastoral and prophetic support to those more then 1,000 conscientious objectors within the military who were forced to disobey orders, to AWOL, or be imprisoned—some of whom have suffered severe mistreatment—when their claims, made shortly before or during the Persian Gulf War, were seriously delayed as an unintended consequence of the war.” The amendment passed 330 to 275.
91-GS-65 Voted: The Eighteenth General Synod adopts the Resolution “Support for the Men and Women of Our Armed Forces, as amended:
SUPPORT FOR THE MEN AND WOMEN OF OUR ARMED FORCES
WHEREAS, we recognize that many of our fellow Americans have served and are serving in our Armed Forces and may be called upon to forfeit their lives for our country;
WHEREAS, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ states on July 7, 1981, that it “desires to hold within its fellowship in love all those whose consciences are found to Christ (including) those who accept military service…;
6. Resolution “Urging reopening of East Jerusalem”
Continuing the report of Committee Fifteen, Ms. Laura Hoglund moved the adoption of the Resolution “Urging Reopening of East Jerusalem.” Ms. Hoglund pointed out that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is considering a similar Resolution this afternoon. Ms. Hoglund requested that the Rev. Dale Bishop from the United Church Board for World Ministries be granted voice without vote. Voice without vote was granted by consensus.
Rev. Bishop spoke in favor of the Resolution.
93-GS-67 VOTED: The Nineteenth General Synod adopts the Resolution “Urging Reopening of East Jerusalem.:
Resolution “Urging reopening of East Jerusalem”
WHEREAS, in response to individual acts of violence against Israelis, the government of Israel, on March 29, 1993, imposed a ban on Palestinians residing in the West Bank and Gaza from entering Israel and East Jerusalem- a ban which continues to the present;
WHEREAS, this ban has prevented many Palestinians from reaching medical facilities in Jerusalem and has kept Christian and Muslim residents of the Occupied Territories from their holy sites in East Jerusalem.
WHEREAS, this ban has devastated the Palestinian economy, causing an economic loss of approximately $3,000,000 per day;
WHEREAS, the United States government has advocated a position, which is in accord with the position of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, that East Jerusalem is occupied territory and that no party can unilaterally change that status;
WHEREAS, just as Jerusalem is of central importance to the Jewish people, so is East Jerusalem the cultural, economic and religious center of the Palestine people, both Christian and Muslim;
WHEREAS, the churches of The Middle East have sought the support of churches around the world in ending the closure of East Jerusalem; and
WHEREAS, the closure of East Jerusalem represents an obstacle to the successful continuation of The Middle East Peace Talks;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that General Synod Nineteen requests that the President of the United Church of Christ call upon the U.S. government to urge Israel to end its ban on travel to East Jerusalem by residents of the West Bank and Gaza;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Synod Nineteen requests the President of the United Church of Christ communicate with all of the delegations to The Middle East Peace Talks the hope that these negotiations will lead to a just peace in the region based upon security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians, as well as their neighbors;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that General Synod Nineteen affirms its solidarity with The Middle East Council of Churches in declaring that the city of Jerusalem must be the Jerusalem for all peoples.
6. Resolution “Jerusalem city of life”
Moderator Dean called on Ms. Sonia Baker (CAL.S), Chair of Committee Four, for their report.
Ms. Baker thanked the members of the Committee Four and those who assisted them with their work. She then reviewed the items of business assigned to the Committee. Ms. Baker spoke about the work of the Committee and moved the adoption of the Resolution “Jerusalem City of Life.” Ms. Baker spoke to the Resolution.
Mr. Hugh C. McLean (ConN) spoke in support of the Resolution.
The Rev. Ronald T. Evans (ConN) asked if the intent of the Resolution was, in any way, an intent to give emphasis to the notion of Jerusalem being declared the Capital of Israel. Ms. Baker stated that the Committee emphasized theological points about Jerusalem, not political points.
Moderator Dean called for the vote.
97-GS-51 VOTED: The Twenty-first General Synod adopts the Resolution “Jerusalem- City of Life.”
Resolution “Jerusalem: city of life”
WHEREAS, the 1980 National Council of Churches Middle East Policy Statement affirmed in 1981 at the General Assembly (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ) and the General Synod (the United Church of Christ) stated that the issue of Jerusalem was an issue not only of shrines, but also of people;
WHEREAS, the peace of Jerusalem is inseparable from the extension of justice to all of its people;
WHEREAS, the peace in Jerusalem, for which we pray, is a peace for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike;
WHEREAS, in March 1995, Paul H. Sherry, President of the United Church of Christ, and Richard L. Hamm, the President and General Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), affirmed the appeal to U.S. President Bill Clinton by eight US Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant church leaders that the U.S. take initiative to insure that the future of Jerusalem not be preempted by the actions of any one party;
WHEREAS, the November 18-20, 1996 meeting of the Common Global Ministries Board unanimously requested the 1997 General Synod (UCC) and the General Assembly (Disciples) to take further action on the issue of Jerusalem;
WHEREAS, on December 21, 1996, Presidents Paul H. Sherry and Richard L. Hamm joined over 600 other Christian leaders in signing an ecumenical full page advertisement in the New York Times that declares support, as Christians, for a negotiated solution for Jerusalem that respects the human and political rights of both Palestinians and Israelis, as well as the rights of the three religious communities of the city;
WHEREAS, in December 1996, the President of the United Church of Christ, Paul H. Sherry, and the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Richard L.Hamm, issued pastoral letters about Jerusalem to the churches as follow up to the action of the Common Global Ministries Board; and
WHEREAS, Presidents Paul H. Sherry and Richard L. Hamm have sought an appointment with President Bill Clinton to express concerns about Jerusalem and the need for a consistent strong stand by the United States, in accord with the terms of this Resolution;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the United Church of Christ, in collaboration with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) should: 1) examine our theological understanding of the significance of Jerusalem and 2) deepen our relations with Jews, Muslims and Palestinian Christians locally and internationally;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United Church of Christ, in collaboration with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), encourages our members to seek dialogue with people of diverse faiths and cultures in their practice of tourism and pilgrimages in and to the Holy Land; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Twenty-first General Synod of the United Church of Christ joins in affirming the text of the December 21, 1996, Churches for Middle East Peace statement Heritage, Hope and Home of Two Peoples and Three Religions:
“Jerusalem is a sacred city to Jews, Christians and Muslims, the Children of Abraham. All long for Jerusalem to be the City of Peace. Now the ancient hope for peace can become reality through negotiations.
Israeli leaders hold that Jerusalem should be Israel’s capital under the sole sovereignty of the State of Israel. Palestinian leaders hold that traditionally Arab eastern Jerusalem should become the capital of a new State of Palestine.
As Christians committed to working for peace, we support a negotiated solution for Jerusalem that respects the human and political rights of both Palestinians and Israelis, as well as the rights of the three religious communities. We urge Jews, Christians and Muslims to open dialogue on these issues.
Jerusalem at peace
Cannot belong exclusively
To one people one country or one religion.
Jerusalem should be open to all,
Shared by all …
Two peoples and three religions.
We urge the United States government to call upon negotiators to move beyond exclusivist claims and create a Jerusalem that is a sign of peace and a symbol of reconciliation for all humankind.”
7. Resolution “Palestine/Israel”
Moderator Dean asked Ms. Baker to continue with the second item of business from Committee Four. Ms. Baker called the attention of the delegates to the Resolution “Palestine/Israel” She assisted delegates in locating the materials and highlighted several points in the background material. Ms. Baker moved the adoption of the Resolution and spoke to the motion.
Moderator Dean asked for discussion.
The Rev. Gordon M. Forbes (CAC) and the Rev. Zoltan Szucs (CA.SY) spoke in support of the Resolution and urged the support of delegates.
The Rev. Alfred C. Krass (PSE) said he supported the Resolution but would have difficulty using it at home in his relationships with Jewish persons and Muslims. He expressed concern about the beginning of the first sentence in the Introduction and offered a friendly amendment to replace the words “the true” with the words “an important part.”
This was accepted as a friendly amendment.
There was no additional discussion and Moderator called for the vote.
97-GS-52 VOTED: The Twenty-First General Synod adopts the Resolution “Palestine/Israel.”
Resolution “Palestine Israel”
Introduction: An important part of the significance of the Holy Land to Christians lies in the living communities of Christians who dwell there. This Resolution calls for support of Palestinian Christians in IsraelPalestine, and for recognition of the suffering of all people living there. It affirms that the wounds of the past must not overcome the opportunities for peace in the present.
The Christian Church began in Jerusalem and Jerusalem has served as a spiritual image of a new community gathered in peace where the love of God shall reign. The writer of the Revelation of St. John writes:
I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…He will wipe every tear from their eye. Death shall be no more- mourning and crying and pain shall be no more, for the first things have passed away (Rev.21:2,4)
The city remains a place of pilgrimage and spiritual renewal where scripture, read in the land where it was written, exudes a special aura of authenticity.
Many Palestinian Christians trace their roots to the first church – the Jerusalem church. Through the centuries Christians have preserved the holy sites.
Palestinian Christians make up an educated and skilled portion of the Palestinian population often managing schools, hospitals and health clinics open to all. They have persisted in their witness despite invasions, conquests, oppression, and persecutions over the past two thousand years.
Palestinian Christians are a diminishing minority in the Holy Land. Economic uncertainty, deteriorating living conditions, and oppressive violations of human and civil rights have driven them from their land. Constituting 25 of the population of IsraelPalestine in 1900, Christians now comprise 2-3 because of the severity of occupation.
Palestinian Christians call upon the international Christian community for help. In a 1996 conference in Jerusalem attended by 200 Christian leaders from all continents and 30 countries, Palestinian Christians again alerted the international Christian community to their plight and requested advocacy for their concerns.
WHEREAS, the Nineteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ has affirmed that unilateral action regarding the sovereignty of Jerusalem only perpetuates antagonisms and threatens the peace of the region;
WHEREAS, Christians in convention in Jerusalem, in January of 1996, supported Palestinian Christians in their petition to the government of Israel to provide free access to Jerusalem for all; to cease expropriating land and expanding settlements; and to support equal housing rights for Palestinians within the city of Jerusalem;
WHEREAS, closure of Jerusalem to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza separates most Palestinians from the center of their economic, cultural and political life and prevents most Palestinian Christians and Muslims from worshiping at their holy sites;
WHEREAS, Christians in Bethlehem have had their land confiscated for the building of Israeli settlements and the roads servicing them, which also threatens sacred and historic sites;
WHEREAS, violation of human and civil rights, the use of coercion, and terrorist acts by any party perpetuate an escalating cycle of violence; and
WHEREAS, pertinent United Nations Resolutions, including General Assembly Resolution 181, placing Jerusalem under a special international regime, have not been implemented;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Twenty-first General Synod of the United Church of Christ supports Palestinian Christians in their insistence that:
- Jerusalem remain a plural and diverse city both religiously and politically and that no party has the right to change the status of Jerusalem unilaterally;
- The building of new Israeli settlements in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza cease;
- Palestinians be permitted to move freely between Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank, for jobs, housing, and all services of community and religious life;
- All governing authorities agree to honor human and civil rights as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations; and
- All forms of violence and killing case.
Subject to the availability of funds.
18. Resolution “Bringing Justice and Peace to The Middle East”
Assistant Moderator Frieberg called on Rev. Susan P. Townsley, Chair of Committee Six, for two pieces of business.
Ms. Townsley directed the delegates to the Resolution “Bringing Justice and Peace to The Middle East” and, on behalf of Committee Six, moved its adoption.
Rev. Sharon K. Prestemon (WIS) shared that just days before General Synod began she returned from a brief time of service/study in Israel/Palestine. She shared observations from her trip and urged passage of this Resolution.
Rev. Eric Kirkegaard (WIS) offered a friendly amendment adding to the first paragraph of the “Be it resolved” the words “non-violent” in the sentence which then would read in part, “to use financial resources in non-violent ways that deter development of Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas.”
The Committee accepted this as a friendly amendment.
Rev. Deanna J. Lewis (KO) spoke as a member of Committee 6 stating the Committee’s commitment to be sure that both the Israelis and Palestinians would be monitored according to this Resolution and that there would be justice and fairness to all parties involved.
Other persons spoke in support of the Resolution.
Rev. William E. Miles (WIS) moved the previous question.
99-GS-34 VOTED: The Twenty-second General Synod votes to close debate.
99-GS-35 VOTED: The Twenty-second General Synod adopts the Resolution “Bringing Justice and Peace to The Middle East.”
Bringing justice and peace to The Middle East
BE IT RESOLVED that the Twenty-second General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls on the Executive and Legislative branches of the United States Government to monitor closely types of aid to the State of Israel and Palestinian areas, to use financial resources in non-violent ways that deter development of Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas, and to use financial resources to promote peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Twenty-second General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls upon the Executive and Legislative branches of the United States Government to provide funding to rebuild infrastructure and homes for the Palestinian people.
FINALLY, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Twenty-second General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls upon the covenanted ministries of Justice and Witness, and Wider Church to publish articles regularly in United Church of Christ publications which give balanced reports of events in Israel and Palestinian areas.
Funding for this action will be made in accordance with the overall mandates of the affected agencies and the funds available.
Note: The following resolution, approved by General Synod 25 in Atlanta, should not be considered “final” until the minutes of the General Synod have been reviewed and approved by the Executive Council in October.
03-GS-23 VOTED: The Twenty-fourth General Synod adopts the resolution “An Alternative Voice to Christian Zionism.”
AN ALTERNATIVE VOICE TO CHRISTIAN ZIONISM
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ has affirmed its support for a secure state of Israel in a previous Synod resolution [“The Israeli- Palestine Conflict” (1987)], and the existence of Israel as a Jewish state is important; and
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ has also condemned anti-Jewish positions in previous resolutions [“Anti-Semitism” (2001), and “Relationship between UCC and the Jewish Community” (1987)]; and
WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ has affirmed its concern about the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine, and the importance of justice for both Israelis and Palestinians in the resolutions: “Bringing Justice and Peace to the Middle East” (1999); “Jerusalem City of Life” (1997) and “Palestine/Israel” (1997); and
WHEREAS, as a result of Israeli settlements, access roads, and military control areas, Palestinians have been constrained in smaller and smaller densely populated, non contiguous areas; and
WHEREAS, many innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians have been killed in the struggle for this land; and
WHEREAS, Israel has a very large peace movement that opposes the occupation of Palestine; and
WHEREAS, in polling data, a majority of Israelis express a desire for negotiations with Palestinians, a two-state solution, and evacuation of settlements in the context of a peace accord; and
WHEREAS, Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have accepted provisions of the Road Map to Peace; and
WHEREAS, Christian Zionism, aligned with the minority Jewish settler group, takes positions on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that are contrary to the position of the Israeli government and of the most Israelis, opposing a two-state solution and supporting transfer of all Arabs out of Palestine; and
WHEREAS, influential members of the current U.S. government endorse Christian Zionist positions as a basis for U. S. foreign policy; and
WHEREAS, the Just Peace Pronouncement that was adopted by the General Synod in 1985, as well as updates and similar proclamations of other denominations and like-minded groups, has received insufficient publicity within our denomination, in the mass media, and among U.S. government officials.
THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the Twenty-fourth General Synod of the United Church of Christ recognizes the diversity of biblical perspectives on the question of a Jewish homeland, but affirms that all such perspectives should be grounded in the message of justice and peace taught by Jesus and the biblical prophets; and
LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, that the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ will write a letter to the President of the United States, other leaders in our government, and the leaders of the state of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, informing them that this General Synod asks all parties to agree unconditionally to abide by the Geneva Conventions and to accept the Road Map to Peace as originally proposed; and
LET IT BE FINALLY RESOLVED, that the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ will, in consultation with the appropriate ministries, develop a plan to communicate the theological and political ramifications of Christian Zionism. Elements of this plan should include:
1. Issuing to all churches in the United Church of Christ a pastoral letter on Christian Zionism and the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine and that this letter be available on the United Church of Christ website.
2. Informing current government officials of Christian alternatives to Christian Zionism.
3. Continuing to devel op the Unite d Church of Christ educational program about the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine and include material that enables Christians to respond with a biblical basis to the tenets of Christian Zionism.The objective of this educational program should be that members of the United Church of Christ will be encouraged to become more active on this issue.
4. Cooperating with other denominations and like-minded groups to promote alternatives to Christian Zionism in the mass media.
Considering the human suffering and the political urgency of the on-going conflict, we would hope the first elements of this plan could be implemented by fall 2003.
Funding for the implementation of this resolution will be made in accordance with the overall mandates of the affected agencies and the funds available.
RESOLUTION CONCERNING USE OF ECONOMIC LEVERAGE IN PROMOTING PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
This resolution calls on the United Church of Christ to exercise multiple strategies to promote peace among all of God’s people in the Middle East.
BIBLICAL, THEOLOGICAL, AND ETHICAL RATIONALE
God’s activity in human history has moved peoples from conflict to concord, God’s desire for peace, broadly understood: the absence of war (Lev. 26:6); reliance on the abundance that God provides (Ex, 15, Ex. 17); harmony among peoples (Ps 133); new relationships among those who have been separated by animosity (Lk 10:27-37). Moreover, God’s prophets have demonstrated God’s will for the faithful to invest their lives and their property, even when such investment seems foolhardy (Jer 32). God’s covenant with Israel remains unbroken (Rom. 9-11).
The world has witnessed unresolved conflict between the peoples whose social, economic and religious lives are rooted in the lands of the Middle East. The United Church of Christ has affirmed the right of Israel to exist and has deplored the violence directed against its people. At the same time the United Church of Christ has enduring relationships with Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians, who suffer greatly under the occupation of their land.
WHEREAS the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has affirmed its commitment to Israel’s safe and secure existence within internationally-recognized borders, neighboring an independent Palestinian state; and
WHEREAS the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has continued to advocate on behalf of justice toward a resolution of the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, advocacy and action which includes but is not limited to education about the realities on the ground and urging the US to play the role of honest broker; and
WHEREAS the Twenty-Third General Synod of the United Church of Christ affirmed its participation in and commitment to the World Council of Churches’ Decade to Overcome Violence (2001), condemning all forms of violence including but not limited to the violence perpetuated in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including acts of suicide bombings by Palestinians; and the use of force by Israelis in perpetuating occupation of Palestinian lands; and
WHEREAS General Synods of the United Church of Christ have been particularly mindful of its relationship in Christ with Palestinian Christians, and notably the mission relationships mutually developed over decades of engagement and presence; and
WHEREAS the General Synod of the United Church ofChnst has affirmed its relationship to the Jewish community, condemning anti-Semitism in all its forms, and affirming that God’s covenant with the Jewish community remains inviolate (1987); and
WHEREAS the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has called for the use of economic leverage on behalf of oppressed people in a variety of circumstances;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 25th General Synod call upon the Covenanted Ministries, Pension Boards, United Church Foundation, Conferences, local churches and members to use economic leverage, including, but not limited to: advocating the reallocation of US foreign aid so that the militarization of the Middle East is constrained; making positive contributions to groups and partners committed to the non-violent resolution of the conflict; challenging the practices of corporations that gain from the continuation of the conflict; and divesting from those companies that refuse to change their practices of gain from the perpetuation of violence, including the Occupation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all settings of the United Church of Christ are urged to remain committed to interreligious dialogue and to participation with Jewish, Christian and Muslim partners to work for peace in Israel-Palestine; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 25th General Synod requests the appropriate national bodies to provide materials that may be used by all settings of the church to discern how economic leverage can be used to support the development of Palestine and Israel as two independent, secure, economically viable states; and
FINALLY BE IT RESOLVED that the 25 General Synod calls upon these settings to create for and disseminate to the local churches study resources on the range of issues contributing to violence and oppression in the Middle East and ways to be involved in promoting peace.
The funding for the implementation of this Resolution will be made in accordance with the overall mandate of the affected agencies and the funds available.
Adopted July 5, 2005
Tear Down the Wall – Resolution of Witness
Submitted by: Wider Church Ministries
For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. (Ephesians 2:14)
A central tenet of our Christian faith is the possibility for reconciliation among peoples. This human reconciliation through God’s love was demonstrated by Jesus Christ, and reported to the people of Ephesus by Paul. We are called to be people of reconciliation and called to engage in the act of reconciliation. Barriers to reconciliation exist in many forms and in many places. When barriers are constructed, hostility that exists becomes exacerbated. Differences between peoples can only be addressed through bringing them together, not by adding further divisions. By breaking down walls that separate, we actively seek peace and reconciliation in the world in an attempt to follow Jesus’ example. In doing so, we seek a death to hostility.
IN June 2002, the State of Israel began an ambitious construction. Construction of a separation barrier—also known as the “security fence” and as the “Wall”—commenced and continues to this day.
According to Israeli plans, the barrier will be over 400 miles (650 kilometers) in length, at a cost not less than $1.6 million per mile ($1 million per km), and will exceed $1 billion for the entire project. The main barrier takes on many forms, including 8-meter high cement walls, 3-meter high electric and barbed-wire fences, and a combination of the two. The infrastructure of the barrier that also includes a buffer zone on both sides, surveillance cameras, trenches, and observation posts compounds what Israeli human rights activist Jeff Halper calls the “matrix of control” of settlements, by-pass roads and checkpoints.
The barrier violates multiple international conventions, agreements, and resolutions, including article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter (prohibiting the use of force to violate territorial integrity), the Fourth Geneva Convention (prohibiting the destruction of land or property and the practice of collective punishment), and both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economical, Social and Cultural Rights (defining rights of movement, property, health, education, work and food.) The barrier also is contrary to UN Security Council resolution 242 which calls for the “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent  conflict.”
The barrier encroaches into the occupied Palestinian territories from along the entire perimeter of the West Bank, frequently abutting or intersecting Palestinian villages, while leaving agricultural fields, shops, and family members on the opposite, Israeli-claimed side of the border. In places like Qalqilya, the barrier loops prominently into the West Bank, enveloping entire Palestinian villages and creating ghettos with a single, narrow checkpoint guarding the entrances to these villages. It will result in Israel’s effective annexation of roughly half of the West Bank, displacing and disconnecting Palestinians from their homes, families, neighbors, and fields. It is this encroachment and the resultant humanitarian crises that the Israeli Supreme Court addressed in its June 30, 2004 ruling, even as it found the motivation for the barrier, based on security concerns, justified.
In a more broad-reaching ruling on the barrier, the International Court of Justice ruled on the barrier’s legality in a July 9, 2004 verdict. In sum, the decision rendered the construction of the barrier contrary to international law, recommended that the State of Israel end its construction and dismantle existing segments and that Israel pay reparations to those who have suffered loss as a result of the construction, and instructed the United Nations to pursue necessary means to address the illegality of the barrier. Both Israel and the U.S. disregarded this ruling and thereby dismissed the relevance of international law. The U.S. continues to provide more aid to Israel than to any other country in the world.
The impact of the visually, physically, psychologically and spiritually offensive barrier on the Palestinian people has been more devastating than abstract facts can convey. Homes have been demolished, water supplies have been cut off, fields have been razed, villages divided, and access to the other side has been cut off. Farmers have lost their fields or lost access to them. Faith-communities—including Palestinian Christians—have been denied access to houses of worship. Families have been split. According to UN estimates, 680,000 Palestinians (30% of the West Bank population) are directly affected. The Sabeel Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem reports that “Palestinians have been separated from their places of employment, their farmlands, hospitals, schools, places of worship and their families. In the first phase of the wall alone, 100,000 trees have been uprooted; 35,000 meters of irrigation networks have been destroyed; and 75% of teachers and students living in the construction areas have had difficulty arriving at school.” These effects further deteriorate the quality of life of the Palestinian population in the occupied territories.
WHEREAS the ongoing violence has created fear, whittled away trust; and both Israel and Palestine have been deeply wounded politically, economically, physically, spiritually, socially, and psychologically; and
WHEREAS the Israeli government, as part of its de facto policy of settlement and colonization, continues to construct the separation barrier, also known as the security fence and the wall, and plans to extend it to approximately 400 miles (650 kilometers) at a cost not less than $1.6 million per mile ($1 million per km), thereby rendering the internationally-endorsed Road Map for peace and other proposals for a negotiated two-state solution unachievable; and
WHEREAS the wall unilaterally changes an international border without direct negotiations between partners, effectively annexes nearly 50% of Palestinian West Bank land and destroys the contiguity of Palestinian life and land, rendering a Palestinian state unviable; and
WHEREAS, the barrier succeeds in confiscating Palestinian agricultural fields, water, and other natural resources, contributes to unemployment and cuts populations off from such essentials of life as employment, education, health care, worship and family; and
WHEREAS history demonstrates that walls build barriers and limit the opportunity for people in conflict to be in contact with each other and reconcile their differing points of view, and the U.S. has previously demanded that walls of separation be torn down;
THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls upon the Israeli government to cease the project to construct the barrier, tear down the segments that have already been constructed, and make reparations to those who have lost homes, fields, property, and/or lives and health due to the barrier and its effects as security for both peoples can best be achieved through an end to the occupation and efforts to encourage access and contact, rather than restricting and denying it; and
LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ urges the U.S. government to persuade the Israeli government to abide by international law and agreements and withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories; and
LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls upon the U.S. government to engage actively, fully and fairly in a peace process that will lead to the peaceful coexistence of two states: Israel and a future Palestine; and
LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ encourages its members at all settings of the United Church of Christ to engage in prayer, study, and dialogue about the barrier and to raise diligently with their governmental officials these concerns.
Funding for this action will be made in accordance with the overall mandates of the affected agencies and the funds available. Wider Church Ministries is responsible for developing the strategy and program designed to implement this resolution.
In 2007, General Synod 26 voted to refer the resolution “In Support of a Renewed and Balanced Study and Response to the Conflict Between Palestine and Israel” directly to Executive Council for implementation. In taking such an action, General Synod affirmed the resolution’s overall consistency with previous General Synod positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The resolution was considered at the October, 2007 Executive Council meeting, and the following action was adopted in order to implement its mandate:
“That the Executive Council call for a Consultation to be held in 2008 or early 2009 on the question of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in cooperation with Wider Church Ministries; that the Executive Council requests the General Minister and President in consultation with the Executive Minster of the Wider Church Ministries and the Area Executive for the Middle East and Europe to convene a panel of United Church of Christ members representing diverse settings and constituencies of the Church; that the Executive Council requests that the panel engage in dialogue with traditional as well as new voices among ecumenical colleagues, regional partners, and interfaith colleagues representing diverse perspectives. Further, the Executive Council requests the General Minister and President to name a moderator for the panel, which will be staffed by the Area Executive for the Middle East and Europe and the ecumenical officer. The Executive Council requests that a report from this panel be sent to General Synod Twenty-Seven in response to the action of GS 26 which referred the resolution “In Support of a Renewed and Balanced Study and Response to the Conflict Between Palestine and Israel,” to the Executive Council. Finally, recognizing that funding is not currently available for this consultation, the Executive Council requests that the General Minister and President seek funds for this Consultation.”
The report of the Consultation, held June 1-3, 2009 in Cleveland, OH, is available here.
At its March 8-10, 2013 meeting in Cleveland, the Executive Council of the United Church of Christ requested of the Collegium of Officers, the United Church Funds, and the Pension Boards of the UCC to prepare brief, written summary reports of their efforts to implement the 2005 General Synod resolution, “Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage to Promote Peace in the Middle East.” These reports were received at the June 27, 2013 meeting of the Executive Council. The reports are online here:
Executive Council member and Central Atlantic Conference Minister, the Rev. Dr. John Deckenback, prepared this summary comparative chart, based on the three reports.
The Executive Council, in its June meeting, took the following action:
It was VOTED
13-06-EC-06 the Executive Council receives, with appreciation, the reports of The Pension Boards, the Collegium of Officers and the United Church Funds, as requested by the Chair of the Executive Council at the March 2013 meeting, regarding the implementation of the 2005 General Synod Resolution Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage to Promote Peace in the Middle East. The Executive Council directs the Secretary to forward the reports to the Secretary of the United Church of Christ Board for its consideration and urges the new Board to continue to encourage the use of economic leverage toward bringing an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories.