Palestinian clergy: ‘Annexation could be the final straw for a viable Christian presence in Palestine’
[The following article, written by Disciples pastor (retired) Jeff Wright, was first published on Mondoweiss on August 20, 2020.]
“Annexation could be the final straw when it comes to a viable Christian presence in Palestine,” declare pastors representing four of the Holy Land’s historic denominations. “For Palestine, Bethlehem and particularly its Christian population… annexation will be particularly catastrophic.”
The July letter sent to diplomatic missions in Palestine/Israel—later released as an Open Letter—denounces Israel’s threatened annexation and calls upon the leaders of the world to “stop this severe injustice.” Written by clergy serving seven Christian congregations in Bethlehem and the neighboring towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, the letter continues, “This is land theft! We are talking about land that is largely privately owned and that our families have owned, inherited and farmed for hundreds of years.”
With U.S. support, on August 13 Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced normalization of diplomatic relations, with Israel agreeing to “suspend” annexation of West Bank lands. After the announcement Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clarified that he sees the suspension only as a delay, not an end to Israel’s annexation plans. The suspension will also not halt Israel’s de facto annexation and ongoing military occupation, as Israel continues to build illegal settlements in the West Bank, demolish Palestinian homes, and violate Palestinians’ rights.
With Congress on recess in August, please take advantage of the opportunity to meet with your congressional representatives. Although in-person meetings are generally not possible right now due to COVID restrictions, Congressional offices continue to meet virtually with their constituents. Many Members of Congress and candidates are also holding virtual town halls, which provides another important opportunity to engage with them.Read more
Last week, Rep. Betty McCollum (MN) introduced the H.R. 8050 Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act to prohibit the US’s recognition of Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the occupied West Bank. This act would ensure that the US government neither recognizes nor funds the annexation of any parts of the West Bank. Rep. McCollum was joined by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Rashida Tlaib (MI) Mark Pocan (WI), Ilhan Omar (MN) Ayanna Pressley (MA), and Andre Carson (IL).Read more
On Wednesday the 12th of August, Sabeel organized the Virtual Jerusalem Ecumenical Prayer Service in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land and in co-operation with other churches in Jerusalem. The service was conducted in Arabic. English, French and Japanese are available online.
God our Father in heaven, we seek your kingdom and righteousness; yet we cannot find peace or justice. We put before You the injustice of our oppression, the confusion and division among our leaders, their righteousness and the absence of it. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.Read more
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) affirms the announcement that Israel's Prime Minister has decided to suspend Israeli annexation in the West Bank in return for normalization of relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Annexation is an atrocious idea, with terrible consequences for both Palestinians and Israelis. It would lock in the Occupation: reinforcing enduring oppression and violence and precluding equal human rights for all. Therefore, CMEP continues to call for the government of Israel to abandon altogether its plans for annexation.Read more
On Tuesday 4th August, an explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut causing almost complete destruction of the port area and a very large number of deaths and injuries. The people of Lebanon were already struggling to deal with high levels of Covid19 and poverty especially among Syrian and Palestinian refugees.
O God, bring comfort to those who mourn, healing to those who are injured, and shelter to those who are homeless. Give strength to those who are working now to rebuild the shattered lives of the people of Beirut and protect those who are vulnerable especially at this time of Coronavirus. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.Read more
The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) has published a new issue of its periodic magazine, “Al-Muntada”, in July 2020, in Arabic and English. The issue focuses on two main topics: Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees’ right of return, and the Middle East region’s approach in facing the Coronavirus pandemic.Read more
The Occupied Palestinian Territories have recorded about 15,000 cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak. They are now experiencing a second and more severe wave of the pandemic, with the number of deaths recorded at 86 (as of the 2nd August). The Palestinian Health Authority has reported a spike of new cases in Hebron and East Jerusalem and are powerless to impose strict containment measures in these areas which are under Israeli control. The situation in these areas is exacerbated by Israeli nightly raids and arrests as well as the shutdown and demolition of testing centers set up in Silwan and Jenin.
Oh Lord, we cry out to you and pray that the Israeli authorities will cease their acts of harassment and aggression against the Palestinians. We pray that those living in overcrowded conditions, especially refugee camps, in the West Bank and Gaza will receive advice and support in how to limit their vulnerability to the virus. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.Read more
Global Ministries is excited to share the opportunity to purchase artisan crafts from around the world while supporting the life-giving work of global partners.Read more
There has been a second wave of coronavirus infection in the occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as in Israel. There are currently 6,028 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the West Bank. 46 people have now died there, six of these deaths occurred since Monday, the 13th of July, including a two-week-old baby from Hebron, who had underlying health conditions. In Gaza 72 people have tested positive for the virus and one person has died. While in Israel 44,714 people have been confirmed to have the virus and 380 people have died.
Lord, we continue to pray for those suffering from the virus and for those who have recently lost loved ones to the pandemic. We pray for those in authority, that they would take wise and timely decisions to reduce the rate of infection among their communities. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.Read more