Tuesday, November 8, 2011

US Churches and Palestine's bid for UN membership

From the World Council of Churches' Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum

US Christian leaders say yes to Palestine UN membership

1 Nov. 2011

Dear friends,

We write to you to share with you a statement from four denominations in the USA on the question of the Palestinian Authority’s bid for membership in the United Nations.

The statement was signed by Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Geoffrey Black of the United Church of Christ, Sharon Watkins of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and Jim Winkler of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.

Their endorsement argues that United Nations membership is not only deserved on the basis of international law as well as basic fairness but essential to be able to “preserve a multi-religious holy land that includes Christian Palestinians”.

The leaders state that they “stand united in prayer for peace and reconciliation among Jews, Christians, and Muslims”. They strongly assert their conviction that regardless of the outcome of the UN vote, there is so substitute for “two-party, two-state negotiations” through which outstanding issues would be resolved. They hope that the Obama Administration would not veto Palestinian membership in the United Nations, and caution that such a move “would put further pressure on Palestinian Christians and Christian minorities elsewhere in the Middle East”.

They also see as unwise and counter-productive “moves in Congress to cut development aid to the Palestinian Authority to punish it for seeking UN membership”. This would “erode the quality-of-life improvements that have been achieved in the West Bank”.

The statement reiterates the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security and further argues that “UN membership for Palestine would be a step in that direction”. They also invite those who might be at variance with their stated views to “to visit Palestine and Israel, to go through the walls surrounding Bethlehem and Gaza, to understand the economic chokehold of the occupation”.

This invitation echoes the call from Kairos Palestine, and groups such as Alternative Tourism group who are promoting pilgrimages for transformation to ‘Come and See’ the “truth of our reality” and at the same time to “say a word of truth and to take a position of truth with regard to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land”.

In a recent statement the World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit had urged strong action by the UN on behalf of Palestine. He referred to the Palestinian membership bid as “a unique opportunity for the UN to take important decisions to fulfil its role and mandate according to the UN Charter”. Tveit called for “different initiatives to build stability in the region” to go hand in hand. Negotiations were not to be seen as an alternative to the Palestinian quest for UN membership.

The Palestine-Israel Ecumenical forum (PIEF) reiterates its call and urges PIEF constituents world-wide to initiate actions that inform and influence public opinion in favour of UN action, and keep up pressure through active lobbying with their governments to vote for the full membership of Palestine at the United Nations.

-- -- --

For more about the United Nations and Palestine, see these links:

UN News Center - Breaking news from the UN News Center

The Question of Palestine - The United Nations page dedicated to the overview and issues related to Palestine.

--- --- ---

To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, sign up at my blog - A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace: http://www.voicesforpeace.blogspot.com/

No comments: