Statement on Ecumenical Accompaniment for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel
As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”
Luke 19:41-42 (NRSV)
The World Council of Churches is faithfully and fully committed to the promotion of a just peace in Israel and Palestine, for both peoples of the region. That commitment is part of the fabric of our faith, and of the heritage of the ecumenical movement. We seek to express it by accompanying the churches, inter-faith partners and communities of these lands in their witness and work for justice and for peace.
As a programmatic response to the appeal by local church leaders to “come and see”, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is a leading expression of that ecumenical commitment in action, in which accompaniment encompasses providing a protective international presence to threatened people and communities, monitoring and reporting on violations of human rights, and witnessing to the reality of life under occupation.
We seek peace in the land of Christ’s birth, a peace that is founded on justice, rather than on violence, bloodshed and exclusion by one against the other, or the perpetual imposition of military occupation and control of an entire people.
Just as we affirm the right of the State of Israel to exist and Jewish people’s right to self-determination, so do we assert the equal right of Palestinian people to the realization of their rights to self-determination in a viable state on the territories occupied since 1967, and with Jerusalem as a shared city for two peoples and three faiths. Just as we categorically denounce antisemitism as sin against God and humanity, so do we reject discrimination, marginalization, collective punishment and violence against Palestinian people on the basis of ethnicity, race or religion also as sin against God and humanity.
We call for an approach to the situation in Israel and Palestine that does not reduce it to a competition of binary opposites, in which one must choose one side or the other, but that recognizes and affirms the common humanity and equal God-given dignity and rights of all people of the region.
The WCC continues to support and promote the vision of the two-state solution as the most practicable configuration for peaceful coexistence and for an end to occupation and institutionalized marginalization in these lands.
However, the WCC executive committee, meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, on 22-28 May 2019, observes with deep sadness that many recent developments in and concerning the region are things that make not for peace or for justice, but for continued occupation, continuing human rights violations, increased suffering, continuing tensions and threats of conflict and terrorism, yet more lives lost, and increasingly explicit denial of the equal human rights and dignity of others. Among other things, these developments have undermined remaining hopes of achieving the two-state solution, to the terrible detriment of both Palestinians and Israelis.
The executive committee therefore:
Calls on all WCC member churches, ecumenical and interfaith partners and all people of conscience and goodwill to continue to uphold and assert the equal human dignity and rights of all people, both Israelis and Palestinians;
Appeals to members of the international community, along with WCC member churches and ecumenical and interfaith partners, not to countenance the reduction of humanitarian assistance to Palestinian communities, or the threat thereof, for the purposes of political leverage;
Reaffirms the WCC’s commitment to ecumenical accompaniment for a just peace in Israel and Palestine, and in particular to supporting the churches of the region in their ministries for peace, justice, human rights and the alleviation of human suffering;
Recommits the WCC to working with ecumenical and interfaith partners internationally and with Palestinian and Israeli groups locally in support of human rights, non-violence, and an end to the military occupation of the Palestinian territories;
Urges all parties in the region, and all members of the international community, to recommit to achieving the two-state solution – entailing the establishment of a viable Palestinian state on the territories occupied since 1967, alongside and equal with Israel – in the interests of both Palestinians and Israelis;
Expresses its deep concern at the increasing attacks on and efforts to delegitimize support for the Palestinian people, for the alleviation of their suffering, and non-violent activism for a just peace in Israel and Palestine.
27 May 2019