Faith organizations express concern about Israel’s planned annexation of occupied Palestinian Territories in the West Bank

ELCIC reports on a joint letter to the Government of Canada, an ecumenical statement, and a webinar

Evangelical Lutheran Church In Canada and Canadian Lutheran World Relief write joint letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs opposing proposed annexation of Palestinian land

ELCIC and CLWR have long supported the goal of achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East through the realization of a viable and sustainable two-state solution.  This letter, dated June 15, 2020, provides background of their more than sixty-five years of work in the region, the context of international laws and agreements, and their request of action by the federal government.  The following is from the letter.

In light of the situation, we urge the Canadian Government to show leadership in:

    • Taking decisive action, including employing all available lawful countermeasures to uphold accountability, in order to halt further annexation and severance of Palestinian territorial integrity, and ensure rapid reversal of those measures announced or already implemented;
    • Rejecting the inequitable “Peace to Prosperity” plan for Israel and Palestine presented by the United States administration and urgently advance an alternative peace plan, based on human rights, international law, and realisation of self-determination for all peoples;
    • Working with the European Union and like-minded allies to take all diplomatic and political actions available to hold the government of Israel accountable for violations of international law, including annexation of any and all parts of the occupied Palestinian territories;
    • Protecting the human rights of Palestinians, including their right to self-determination, and to resist occupation and annexation; and
    • Review the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement to insure that Palestinian producers have access to Canadian markets and that Canadian Trade Policy does not legitimate Israel’s tacit annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Read the entire letter here.

Annexation will undermine peace and justice ~

Ecumenical Statement on the Planned Annexation of Occupied Palestinian Territory

Faith based organizations, representing believers worldwide, issued an ecumenical statement on June 29, 2020 expressing their concern over the planned annexation of occupied Palestinian Territories in the West Bank by the Government of Israel.  The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) joined with ACT Alliance, The World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the World Council of Churches in calling the international community to take immediate action to directly address the unilateral action.  The new threat of annexation entrenches and compounds the ongoing situation of occupation that has far too long undermined the rights and future of Palestinian people.  The statement includes the following:

Watch tower in the separation wall in Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

We lift up the cries of all people of goodwill, of all those Palestinians and Israelis who have suffered in the conflict, and particularly the Palestinian people who suffer every day under the occupation regime and the unbearable situation of blockade in Gaza. We recognize that this present crisis has historical and complex roots, but it is also a result of unilateral actions, power imbalance, and the use of force and violence instead of dialogue and negotiation. Peace can never be unilaterally imposed or achieved by violent means.

The planned annexation of Palestinian territories by the Government of Israel would be a serious obstacle for the achievement of justice and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It will undermine even more the rights of Palestinians, reducing their mobility, their access to land and livelihoods, to adequate infrastructure and basic services. It will increase forced displacement, and it could prevent humanitarian organizations’ access in order to provide basic services and the necessary lifesaving interventions.

Read the full text of the Statement here.

On the World Council of Churches’ website, there is a post describing how various faith organizations and church leaders from around the world have expressed concern over the Israeli plan to annex parts of the West Bank:  https://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/church-leaders-across-the-globe-express-deep-concern-over-israeli-plan-to-annex-parts-of-west-bank-1
Searching “Palestine” in the Press Centre menu on the World Council of Churches’ website gives a list of other articles.

Webinar hosted by KAIROS Canada discusses human rights and women as well as peace and security in Palestine

Sign at entrance to Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

On July 9, 2020, Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS, hosted a discussion with Wi’am (The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre) located in Bethlehem, Palestine and members of the KAIROS Palestine-Israel Delegation who travelled to Palestine and Israel in November 2019.  Wi’am staff provided an update about their work and the current context including the impacts of COVID-19 and annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel.  Members of the Palestine-Israel Delegation shared what they have undertaken to promote human rights and a just peace in Palestine and Israel as well providing stories from their 2019 trip.

The webinar features:

From Wi’am: Palestinian Centre for Conflict Transformation: 

  • Zoughbi Zoughbi, Director
  • Tarek Zoughbi, Project Officer and Youth Coordinator
  • Lucy Talgieh, Women’s program coordinator

From KAIROS delegation to Palestine and Israel: 

  • The Rev. Andreas Thiel, Rector of St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Windsor, Ontario
  • The Rev. Mary Helen Smith, The Presbyterian Church in Canada
  • Paul Hansen, Roman Catholic priest of the Redemptorist Congregation
  • The Rev. Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
  • Lori Ransom, Indigenous Ministries and Justice, United Church of Canada
  • Lana Robinson, Canadian Friends Service Committee of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • The Rev. Rosalyn Kantlaht’an Elm, Anglican Church Diocese of Huron
  • Jennifer Henry, Executive Director, KAIROS
  • Wendy Gichuru, United Church of Canada

KAIROS’s Palestine-Israel delegation from November 2019 at the Wi’am Center with the separation wall behind them.
photo from KAIROS website

The delegation’s final report was published in February 2020.  It is available here.  The following is from the introduction:

The delegation aimed to strengthen collective, ecumenical and denominational policy and partnership work in Palestine and Israel, highlighting support for grassroots women’s organizations in peacebuilding and deepening the understanding of the impacts of conflict and occupation on women and girls.  Delegates met with partners in Palestine and Israel, learning about their work and context with a focus on women’s empowerment and women’s role in building sustainable peace.

During the ten days, delegates travelled to Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Jericho, Tel Aviv, Gaza, Nazareth, and Tiberias.  They met with women’s groups supported by Wi’am in four communities including Thabra, Beit Umar, Jericho, and Bethlehem, visited community development and infrastructure projects, and met with civil society organizations, Canadian government representatives, human rights groups and religious and community leaders both in Palestine and Israel.

Photos from outside the Wi’am Center,
which is located near the Separation Wall in Bethlehem, Palestine

Separation wall in Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Graffiti on Separation Wall in Bethlehem – photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Wi’am Center playground in Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Separation wall with graffiti, including the words “Rachel is weeping”, is seen beyond the Wi’am Center playground.
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Fruit trees next to Wi’am Center’s playground.
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Viewing the Wi’am Centre playground through the barbed wire fencing along the road next to the separation wall.
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Separation wall and watch tower from entrance to Wi’am Center
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

Graffiti on the separation wall in Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

A Sense of the Extent of the Wall and Banksy’s Commentary in Art

The separation wall. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC, 2020

Banksy’s Armoured Dove, Bethlehem, Palestine
photo credit: L. Ross, January 2019

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