Give Sight to the Blind and Freedom to the Captives
September 22, 2004
We, as members of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network, representing 23 Provinces of the worldwide 75,000,000 member Anglican Communion, have visited the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem over these last 8 days, and during that time have been inspired by the faith of the people in the diocese, while also being exposed to the draconian conditions of the continuing Occupation under which so many Palestinians live. We have heard from Israeli Jewish voices, and from Palestinians, both those who reside in Israel and those who live under Occupation. We note the continuing policies of illegal home demolitions, detentions, checkpoints, identity card systems and the presence of the Israeli military that make any kind of normal life impossible. We have seen and heard the effects of the overwhelming presence of settlements or colonies in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Gaza, and the bypass roads and highways that connect them while disconnecting Palestinian villages, one from another. We have seen the destruction of precious arable lands and restrictions on precious water resources. Finally, and shockingly, we have been exposed to the separation wall that violates international boundaries, causing mayhem in Palestinian daily life and further defines Israeli intentions to appropriate land from the Palestinians.
We conclude from our experience that there is little will on behalf of the Israeli government to recognize the rights of the Palestinians to a sovereign state to be created in the West Bank - which includes East Jerusalem - and Gaza. Israel, with the complicity of the United States, seems determined to flaunt international laws, whether they are the Geneva Conventions, United Nations resolutions or the most recent decision of the International Court of Justice in declaring the separation wall illegal. In fact, we note that this latter decision is based on building the wall on Palestinian territory, which once again demonstrates the illegality of the Occupation itself.
We deeply respect and honor those Israelis who are prepared to end this miserable Occupation and recognize a Palestinian State, people courageously committed to justice and who work against home demolitions, who promote human rights and oppose settlements, bypass roads and the separation wall. And we pay tribute to the courage, endurance and hope of the Palestinian people who suffer the dreadful injustice of the Occupation.
We deplore the unwillingness of the Israeli government to implement United Nations resolutions 242 and 338. At the same time, we want to assure the Israeli Jewish community of our concern for their security and safety, to be able live without fear. We deplore the unbroken cycle of violence, which has claimed too many innocent lives on both sides. We condemn violence whatever the source. We reach out to Palestinians and Israelis of good will, assuring both of them of our love and support in ending this long and troubled conflict. We embrace all those who have lost loved ones in the violence and extend our deepest sympathies.
We offer not only our solidarity for a just peace, but also our observation that it is the Occupation in its many facets that foments the violence and fuels the conflict. Collective punishment of the Palestinian people must be brought to an end.
We therefore urge the following steps in order to achieve a sovereign and independent Palestine living alongside a secure Israel recognized by and at peace with her neighbors:
* The withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from all occupied areas in accordance with 1967 borders and a complete halt to settlement building, both new or expanded, to be followed by a process of phasing out settlements altogether
* The immediate dismantling of the separation wall in compliance with the ruling of the International Court of Justice wherever the wall violates West Bank land
* The introduction of an international peacekeeping force under the auspices of the United Nations into the Occupied Territories charged with maintaining security so that both sides may be free from further attacks
* A humanitarian effort led by the United Nations to provide relief to the suffering Palestinian people
* The immediate resumption of negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinian Authority under the umbrella of the United Nations, European Union, Russia, the United States and the Arab League (while we support a total withdrawal from Gaza, we urge it to be part of an overall resolution of the conflict)..
* That negotiations be based on United Nations resolutions 242 and 338 that results in a viable and sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital as well as the capital of Israel, and assures the right of return for Palestinian refugees
The unconditional recognition of the state of Palestine must be implemented if peace is to prevail in the Middle East.
As an aside, we are deeply troubled by the use of United States made weapons and aircraft provided to Israel and being used for attacks on civilian targets, which occur with increasing frequency. We urge a moratorium on the use of such weapons, which violate U.S. law.
And we address a word to the wider conflict in the Middle East. The war in Iraq further fuels anger and hatred during these already volatile times. We urge the withdrawal of U.S. forces to be replaced with an international presence led by the United Nations. Further, we believe that a much more constructive course would be for President Bush and Prime Minister Blair to intervene and resuscitate the peace process as a direct action of healing and reconciliation for the global community.
Finally, we call upon the faith communities, and especially the Anglican Communion, to a time of focused and intentional prayer and advocacy for peace in the Holy Land. We call on the leadership of the Abrahamic Faiths from around the world to exercise their authority and influence on the political leadership among the several nations who carry the responsibility for making a just peace.
Anglican Peace & Justice Network
SEPTEMBER 14-23, 2004, JERUSALEM
The Rev. Canon Chris Jones
The Rt. Rev. Luiz Osorio Prado
The Rt. Rev. Pie Ntukamazina
Ms. Cynthia Patterson
Ms. Lisbeth Barahona
The Rev. Beni Bezaleri Bataaga
Dr. Charles Reed
The Rt. Rev. Nathaniel Makoto Uematso
The Rev. Sam Koshiishi
The Rt. Rev. Gideon Ireri
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Guen Seok Yang
The Rt. Rev. Saw Wilme
Dr. Jenny Te Paa
Mr. Prem Masih
Dr. Andrew A. Tauli
Mr. Geoffrey Kayigi
The Rev. Alison Simpson
Dr. Mrs. Pauline Sathiamurthy
Ms. Delene M. Mark
The Rt. Rev. Kumara Illangasighe
Mr. Kuwayawaya S. Kuwayawaya
Ms. Jessica Nalwoga
The Rev. Canon Brian J. Grieves
Anglican Observer at the UN
Archdeacon Taimalelagi F. Tuatagaloa-Matalavea
The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek
Liaison to the ACC for the Anglican Women's Network
Ms. Jolly Babirukamu
The Witness Magazine
Mr. Ethan Flad
Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem
The Rt. Rev. Riah Abu El Assal
The Rev. Canon Suheil Dawani
Ms. Nancy Dinsmore
Mrs. Eliane Abdelnoor
Ms. Susan Khayo