Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – Background Document on the Situation in the Middle East
WCC Central Committee - Potsdam (Germany)

Commended to the churches for their study and urgent action by the Central Committee, Potsdam, Germany, 29 January – 6 February 2001.

Since the Preliminary Report on Public Issues was prepared, the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel has further intensified. As noted in that earlier report, the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the WCC sent a delegation comprised of representatives of member churches in Palestine and led by a member of the WCC Executive Committee to the Fifth Special Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights called last October to consider the implications of Israel’s disproportionate use of force. In a written submission to that meeting, entitled “Sharing the Land, the Truth and the Peace,” the WCC noted that

events following the provocative visit (of Ariel Sharon) on 28 September to Al-Haram Al-Sharif have again shown that the consequence of (Israel’s) repeated defiance of international law, of continuing systematic violations of human rights, including the application of collective punishments, has been to incite to violence and to deny peace and security to both peoples. Israel’s particularly harsh response through the use of excessive force against its own Palestinian minority in recent days has contributed to their further vulnerability and alienation and to a deeper polarization of Israeli society.

It went on to say that

Most Israelis and Palestinians fervently desire peace, but many also despair at the lack of progress towards it. Jerusalem – home to Arabs and Jews, and considered holy by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike – has been regarded as the most complicated and difficult issue and has repeatedly been left to the end of the negotiation process. Believing that a resolution of this question could open the way to agreements on equitable sharing of the land and resources in Palestine, the last WCC Assembly (Harare, 1998) called upon the parties not to postpone further but to include final status negotiations on Jerusalem as an integral part of negotiations on a general settlement of the wider Middle East conflict. In fact an approach along these lines was taken during the most recent talks in Camp David. For the first time, both sides tabled constructive proposals for shared sovereignty in Jerusalem. Recent events have cut short this hopeful process. Once again the exercise of peoples’ rights to peace and sovereign development has fallen victim to the enemies of peace.

It was not surprising that these confrontations began in Jerusalem, the nerve center of the conflict. In a resolution adopted on 29 September the WCC Executive Committee nevertheless shared the conviction expressed by Their Beatitudes the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches and Christian Communities in Jerusalem in their statement of 26 September 2000 that a successful conclusion of final status negotiations on Jerusalem would contribute greatly to “true peace with true justice and security for the ‘two peoples and three religions’ of this land – Palestinians and Israelis, Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.” The WCC is firmly convinced that God intended the Holy City to be a source of peace, stability and coexistence rather than of the division and conflict that destroy human dignity and hope. We hope that the present special session of the Commission on Human Rights will draw on the spiritual resources God offers through Jerusalem and contribute constructively to this end.

Few international conflicts have been so marked by the dominant power’s defiance of its obligations under the Charter to abide by decisions of the Security Council and its treaty obligations such as those of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Here as elsewhere self-asserted claims to impunity pose barriers to peace and reconciliation between nations and peoples. Thus the WCC welcomed the important decision of the Security Council in res. 1322 (2000) that stressed “the importance of establishing a mechanism for a speedy and objective inquiry into the tragic events of the last few days with the aim of preventing their repetition”. Such an investigation could provide an essential beginning to revealing, sharing and mutual acceptance of the truth about past systematic violations of peoples’ rights. Without such a process there can be little hope for justice, peace or reconciliation between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Christians and Muslims within and beyond Israel’s legitimate borders.

On 10 October 2000 the General Secretary wrote to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, offering support and prayers for the success of the mission he had undertaken to the region. Dr Raiser said there:

Both sides have suffered from this renewed violent confrontation. But once again it is the Palestinian people, especially Palestinian youth, who pay by far the greater price in God-given life as a result of the disproportionate use of armed force by Israel.

We pray that Prime Minister Barak and President Arafat and all those caught up in the terrible, rising spiral of violence will respond to your initiative and to the appeals of governments and peoples around the world by stepping back from the brink before they and the region as a whole are cast again into the abyss of full-scale war.

This is not a time for ultimatums or threats of more violent acts of retribution, but the hour to join together in declaring a truce and days of public mourning for the victims of the violence on all sides.

WCC initiatives. As noted in the Preliminary Report on Public Issues, the WCC has paid regular visits to Palestine and Israel in light of the VIII Assembly Statement on the Status of Jerusalem. In addition to the steps reported there, the Deputy General Secretary and International Relations staff met in May 2000 with the Vatican State Secretariat to share the WCC’s positions on the Status of Jerusalem and discuss common concerns. In June 2000 staff addressed an international human rights conference in Jerusalem on “Freedom of Access to the Holy City of Jerusalem,” presenting the WCC principles on the Status of Jerusalem.

As part of its international advocacy efforts, a hearing for the international diplomatic, NGO and ecumenical community and press was held in Geneva on the Geopolitical Situation in Israel-Palestine, where the territorial and water issues at the heart of the final status negotiations were detailed after the breakdown of the Camp David talks.

During Advent, the General Secretary wrote a pastoral letter on behalf of the WCC Officers to the churches and Christian communities in Jerusalem. In that letter Dr Raiser reassured them of WCC’s constant prayers, and recalled his Christmas message where he

…recalled the centuries-old unwritten rule that at Christmas a cease-fire be observed in all situations of military conflict. In both of these contexts I had particularly in mind our sisters and brothers caught up in the terrible new spiral of violence in Israel and Palestine.

Clearly a cease-fire is not enough. True peace is our shared goal, a peace built on the foundations of justice, so together with you we long for justice for the Palestinian people. Just peace and an end to the vicious cycle of violence demands a fundamental conversion of the human spirit, a recognition of the God-given dignity and the rights of the other, a change of heart. It was surely this that the Prophet had in mind when he foretold the coming of the Prince of Peace.

The current situation. Two weeks prior to this meeting, a small consultation with experts on and from the region was convened in Geneva by the CCIA to analyze the current situation and assess prospects for peace. In brief summary, participants there concluded the following:

  • The present Palestinian Intifadah (uprising) results from the growing frustration of the people with the Oslo Peace Process that after seven years the promises of the Oslo Accords had not borne fruit. The significant compromises made by the Palestinian leadership to meet Israel’s demands had not been reciprocated by significant steps on the part of Israel to implement their commitments, but rather by reiterated delays accompanied by ever increasing demands on the Palestine National Authority to provide security, inter alia, for illegal Israeli settlers. In the view of many Palestinians, the moribund peace process was dealt a death stroke in Jerusalem with the massive show of armed force at the time of the visit of Ariel Sharon.The heart of injustice, and thus the greatest impediment to peace, is the continuing and in fact expanding occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel. Settlements increased rather than decreased during the seven years of Oslo, in violation of both the spirit and the letter of the Accords. Some experts estimate that the number of settlers has grown during this period from 95,000 to over 390,000 today, a growth rate three or four times that of the annual population increase in Israel itself. Rather than decreasing, illegal settlements in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem have also grown rapidly and have in fact accelerated since 1999, together with the construction of even more direct access highways and security roads throughout Palestine. The price continues to be paid by the Palestinians in further displacement, destruction of even more homes, and the alienation of property.
  • The last-minute effort of US President Clinton to “make peace” has again revealed that the future status of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees’ right of return remain still at the center of contention and a motivating factor at the heart of the present Intifadah. The ecumenical positions on Jerusalem are clear and relevant especially in the present context. The WCC also has a long history of involvement with the Palestinian and Jewish peoples, going back to the period even before the Partition and the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. It has reaffirmed the principles embodied in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948 that held that Palestinian “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which…should be made good by the government or authorities responsible.” The implementation of these provisions is not only a basic human rights concern, but also a necessary precondition for a durable peace.
  • The disproportionately violent reaction of Israel to the present Intifadah represents not only a rise in the use of armed force, but seems to respond to a clear strategic plan aimed at strengthening Israeli occupation of land taken by force in 1967, its control over water and other resources in Palestinian lands, and the maintenance of dependency of Palestinians on Israel. That dependency has many facets, but the primary one strengthened in the present strategy is the economic control over Palestine by Israel. A 1997 World Bank report warned that “Since the signing of the Oslo Agreement, the economic situation (of the Palestinians) has continued to deteriorate. The decline in household incomes, a sharp increase in unemployment, and the general broadening of poverty pose serious challenges for economic sustainability.” Israel’s actions now of blocking Palestinians’ access to employment both in the areas under control of the Palestinian National Authority and in Israel has only served to make this lasting situation more acute.
  • Israel’s long-standing practice of sweeping closures of Palestinian areas, curfews and other forms of restrictions of free movement made Palestinians, even those now living under Palestinian control, prisoners in their own land. In recent weeks these practices have been taken to an extreme, blocking access even from one town or neighborhood to another, and thus to schools, medical care and places of worship in an apparent attempt to destroy the very fabric of Palestinian society. Palestinians, through the new Intifadah, signal their unwillingness to continue to live under siege from their powerful neighbor.
  • The international community, and particularly the United Nations, has continuing responsibility for the situation in Israel and in Palestine under international law. Israel, often supported by the USA, has managed especially since 1967 to act with virtual impunity, ignoring or openly violating admonitions and resolutions of the UN General Assembly and Security Council. It is clearly time for the international community, and perhaps especially for the European States to assume their responsibilities in a more determined way.
  • The violence generated by the present conflict is generally known as a result of massive media coverage of events. The second Intifadah demonstrates that the way to end the violence is not through simplistic appeals for a cease-fire. What is needed is a true change of heart, especially by the occupying power, and the engagement of new negotiations that will take advantage of the undeniable gains achieved by the Oslo Accords. The WCC Executive Committee welcomed the signing of the agreements in Oslo, but at the same time expressed serious reservations about the degree to which they would lead in fact to a just peace. The WCC long expressed the conviction that an effective agreement for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict must be found in the context of an international conference. An urgent task now is to find a new, broader framework of negotiation that builds upon the achievements especially since the Madrid Conference in 1991.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – Minute on the situation in the Holy Land
WCC Central Committee – Potsdam (Germany)

Document PI 6.2 (Adopted)

II. Minute on the Situation in the Holy Land after the Outbreak of the Second Palestinian Uprising

In an appeal on November 9, 2000 all thirteen Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches of Jerusalem, expressed their conviction that:

The Church believes that it is the right as much as duty of an occupied people to struggle against injustice in order to gain freedom, although it also believes that non-violent means of struggle remain stronger and far more efficient. In this sense, both parties must show the necessary fortitude, both in their hearts and in their minds, to look at the core of the conflict so that the Palestinian people can gain at long last its full freedom within its own sustainable state. It is imperative now to implement principles of international legitimacy by enforcing the binding UN resolutions. Such fortitude is a wise sign of foresight and an indispensable prerequisite for long-lasting peace. (Excerpt from “A Faithful Appeal,”)

The Central Committee expresses its deep sadness and grave concern at the new escalation of violence in the Palestinian autonomous and occupied territories as well as Israel over the last four months that has claimed a terrible toll of human life, especially among Palestinian children and youth. It extends its consolation to all the afflicted and the bereaved and assures the Heads of Churches and Christian communities of Jerusalem of its constant prayers and solidarity, as they bear in their hearts and minds the pain of their communities and of all those Palestinians and Israelis who are suffering the consequences of this conflict.

We share the frustration and disappointments of our Palestinian sisters and brothers. We are deeply disturbed by and deplore a pattern of discrimination, routine humiliation, segregation and exclusion which restricts Palestinian freedom of movement, including access to the holy sites, and the disproportionate use of military force by Israel, the denial of access to timely medical assistance, the destruction of property, including tens of thousands of olive trees, and which requires special permission for Palestinians to enter areas under Israeli jurisdiction and establishes “cantonization” of the land, so that Palestinian land is separated from one another – a pattern so very reminiscent of policies that the WCC has condemned in the past.

We therefore urge the member churches of the WCC to increase their efforts to condemn injustice and all forms of discrimination, to end Israeli occupation, to pray for and promote a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East. To help inform and strengthen those efforts, we commend to the churches the background information presented to this meeting for their study and urgent action.

We call upon the General Secretary and staff of the Council to:

continue their support of efforts towards a negotiated peace in the Middle East bsed on international law, paying special attention to the future status of Jerusalem, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, the increasing number of settlements and measures to enforce all relevant United Nations resolutions, including those regarding the withdrawal from all occupied territories — the Palestinian occupied territories, the Golan Heights and Shaba’a;

continue to analyze and to keep the member churches regularly informed on the evolving situation;

accompany the churches of the Holy Land and their members, and advocate their rights;

support local Israeli and Palestinian grassroots peacebuilding efforts; and

promote and/or cooperate with church, ecumenical and other initiatives, to strengthen broad international support for a comprehensive peace based on justice and security for all the peoples of the region.

RECOMMENDATION: The Public Issues Committee recommends the adoption of this minute.


International Ecumenical Consultation on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
WCC Central Committee – Geneva (Switzerland)

Report of the consultation convened by the WCC
August 6-7, 2001 – Geneva, Switzerland

In pursuance of the WCC Central Committee statement of February 2001 “On the situation in the Holy Land after the Outbreak of the Second Palestinian Uprising”, which urged the WCC General Secretary to “accompany the churches of the Holy Land and their members, and advocate their rights; (to) support local Israeli and Palestinian grassroots peace-building efforts and (to) promote and /or cooperate with church, ecumenical and other initiatives, to strengthen broad ecumenical international support for a comprehensive peace based on justice and security for all peoples of the region”, Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser sent an ecumenical delegation to Jerusalem and the West Bank from 27 June to 1 July and convened an International Ecumenical Consultation on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, on August 6-7, the first ever of its nature. (Ref. Framework Paper for an International Ecumenical Response to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – 22 June 2001).

During its visit, the WCC delegation met with the Patriarchs and Heads of Christian Communities in Jerusalem as well as key local clergy and laity, church-related and ecumenical organisations, including Israeli and Palestinian human rights and peace activists. Apart from bringing back an eye-witness account of the situation on the ground, as well as expressing solidarity with the churches of Jerusalem, the delegation was on an exploratory and consultative mission as part of a preparatory process for the international ecumenical meeting. (Ref. Report of the WCC Delegation to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel – released on August 6, 2001)

Summary Report
In response to the calls of member churches and to the recommendations of the WCC delegation to the region, the International Ecumenical Consultation on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict addressed the core issues of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Urgently convened by the WCC General Secretary and organised by the WCC International Affairs, Peace & Human Security team at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva, it brought together heads of churches, WCC Executive and Central committee members, including its moderator, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, the moderator and members of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (WCC/CCIA), high-level representatives of WCC member churches and ecumenical partners from Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Jerusalem, including all members of the WCC delegation. Also invited to the consultation were the permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva, the General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and the Chairperson of the MECC – Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR), a select number of Palestinian and Israeli peace activists as well as a number of Palestinian church related and ecumenical institutions.

The consultation began after an ecumenical prayer service for peace in Israel and Palestine, led by the (then) Coordinator of the WCC International Relations team, Rev. Dwain Epps, where the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Rt Rev. Bishop Riah Abu El Assal preached. The sessions were co-chaired by the WCC General Secretary and Moderator of the WCC Executive/Central Committees. Unfortunately, several Palestinian participants were unable to attend due to travel restrictions imposed by the Israeli government.

Building on long-standing WCC attention to the Palestinian question, the consultation, which included fifty participants, provided an ecumenical space, facilitated by the WCC to develop a platform for common reflection and action. Apart from initiating sharing, joint planning and strategizing, the consultation aimed to facilitate better coordination and cooperation of the ecumenical fellowship. Its key objectives were to:

  • respond to the requests of WCC member churches to facilitate an international presence and non-violent resistance, advocacy/campaigns/ vigils to end the occupation;
  • consider practical ways of following up on the recommendations of the Human Rights Inquiry Commission; develop an international ecumenical Plan of Action and Strategy, which operates on all levels, including international, regional and national;
  • consider the creation of an International Ecumenical Platform to end violence, occupation and all forms of discrimination in Palestine, coordinated by the WCC in the context of the Decade to Overcome ViolenceKeynote speakers invited to address the consultation included Prof. Richard Falk, a member of the Human Rights Inquiry Commission, Prof. John Dugard, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission and newly-appointed Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Occupied Territories since 1967 and a representative of Mrs. Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.Prof. Falk summarized the background, findings and recommendations of the Human Rights Inquiry Commission, which he stated were still relevant and gave a powerful account of the facts on the ground. He highlighted that there are moral and legal issues at stake in this whole conflict. He called on all to recognise that the present Israeli practices are calculated and clear policies of military occupation and oppression and that there is no time for moral ambivalence. Churches like others in the international community, should have the courage to be uncompromising in their statements and develop their responses to counter the policies of occupation and oppression. With regard to the breakdown of the Oslo peace process, he reiterated that respect for existing human rights and humanitarian legal norms need to be part of and not an outcome of the peace process. As for the question of an international presence, he stressed that the international community should ensure that it not simply provides a cosmetic response but is independent in its reporting capacity. Other key issues he highlighted were the existence of settlements, extra-judicial political assassinations, denial of fundamental economic and social rights and the terrible suffering of the most vulnerable group from a legal perspective: the Palestinian refugees. He urged the participants to appreciate the refugee issue as a matter of urgency that needs to be addressed in a genuine and substantive way. He welcomed the WCC initiative and the response by the different WCC member churches and partners, calling the ecumenical movement to recognize that it has the responsibility to summon a religious and spiritual response to fill the vacuum of the secular world.

    Prof. J. Dugard, in his turn, reiterated that when dealing with human rights it is imperative that we do not do so in isolation, but in the context of military occupation and denial of all rights. In addition, he reviewed his mandate, which covers civilians under occupation, hence falling in the realm of humanitarian law and the IV Geneva Convention. Among others he highlighted the issue of settlements and the destruction of Palestinian houses and trees near settlements, which have also been emphasized by the Mitchell Commission. He also reiterated the need for an international presence as a matter of urgency and the importance to remain in the realm of human rights discourse and use uncompromising language always within the context of military occupation. He stressed the importance of the European Union to be actively involved and called the civil society and the churches in Europe to encourage their governments in this regard.

    Ms. Darka Topali, Senior Human Rights Officer representing the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, elaborated on the resolutions adopted during the 5th Special Session and the 57th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. She highlighted the salient points of the High Commissioner’s report after her urgent visit to the region which was presented at the 57th Session of the Commission in March. She welcomed the role of the WCC and its member churches in this conflict and affirmed the continuing cooperation of the High Commissioner’s Office.

    Participants shared their different views, ideas, experiences and planned activities (Ref. Church and Ecumenical Statements, Letters and Appeals since the Outbreak of the Second Palestinian Uprising – June 2000 ). The consultation was not able to spend quality time for joint strategizing. Therefore suggestions of the churches of Jerusalem and those of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists that were shared with the consultation in writing are attached (Annex III).

    The consultation participants concluded their deliberations by affirming their commitment to work with the WCC to address all human rights violations and all forms of discrimination against the Palestinian people as a result of the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories. The consultation participants reiterated the WCC delegation report’s suggestion that this is a “kairos moment” for the church community in Palestine and world-wide: deep despair resulting from the recent escalation of violence has also deepened the desire of both Palestinians and Israelis for a “just and durable peace”. All agreed that statements by churches world-wide have been important but the “time for statements seems to be over”.

    The full delegation report and its recommendations, which support those of the Human Rights Inquiry commission, were endorsed by the participants of the consultation. Among them are the call for the WCC to “designate 2002 as the year to focus attention of all member churches on Ending the Violence of Occupation in Palestine under the Decade to Overcome Violence”, the development of a comprehensive accompaniment programme, a cooperative response to the humanitarian crisis, coordinated advocacy at all levels and support for international law and particularly UN resolutions as the basis for peace negotiations, assistance to local churches, and lifting up “alternatives and moderate voices on both sides of civil society who are struggling to find common vision and future.”

    In particular the consultation identified seven potential areas for coordinated action as the beginning of a joint process of ecumenical planning and strategizing for a concerted international response. These were:

  • coordinating advocacy with governments
  • boycotting goods produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories
  • strengthening the “chain of solidarity” through prayer vigils
  • resisting the destruction of property and uprooting of people from their homes and land
  • encouraging and enabling the presence of ecumenical monitoring teams
  • improving communication, interpretation and media reporting on the conflict and its causes
  • increasing church, ecumenical, and interreligious delegations to and from Israel and the OPT.The WCC General Secretary has requested the International Affairs, Peace & Human Security team, in consultation with other relevant teams of the WCC, to continue the lead in ensuring the implementation of all recommendations and facilitate cooperation and coordination. With the MECC General Secretary and the heads and representatives of the churches of Jerusalem present, Rev. Raiser agreed to consider the development of a coordination point for ecumenical action in Jerusalem and explore the possibility of linking it with an international coordination point. It was decided that the WCC Director of the Relations Cluster and MECC General Secretary and a representative of the churches in Jerusalem would be part of a tripartite committee to explore these possibilities and present different proposals to the WCC, MECC and local churches for their consideration and further action in the next six months. Bishop Abu El-Assal agreed to share this with all heads of churches in Jerusalem and asked them to decide on a third member of the committee to represent the local churches and inform the WCC and MECC by September.In his concluding remarks, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, moderator of the WCC Executive and Central Committee, reiterated that this consultation was only a step in the process of strengthened ecumenical action. In his turn, Rev. Raiser summarized the WCC’s role as one of coordination and facilitation of an ecumenical space for sharing, joint planning and action, in addition providing conceptual clarity and coherence in policy and terminology for the churches’ use. Rev. Raiser emphasized the need to focus on the ethical, moral and legal discourse rather than the language of power. The specific contribution to peace and reconciliation of churches and religious communities was emphasized throughout the consultation; “Being members and representatives of faith communities entails a commitment to a basic moral, ethical stance, to an integrity of the rights approach that we hope will rescue the conflict from becoming totally embroiled in a pure power struggle,” Rev. Raiser added. He assured participants that all recommendations of the WCC delegation as well as the consultation would be presented to the WCC Executive Committee meeting in the beginning of September for its consideration and appropriate action.

Consultation on Israeli-Palestinian conflict decides on coordinated ecumenical action
WCC Central Committee

Painfully aware of the urgent need for the churches to move from affirmation to action in solidarity with the Palestinian people at this critical time, 50 participants at an international ecumenical consultation on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have identified seven potential areas for coordinated action as a beginning of a joint process of ecumenical planning and strategizing for a concerted international response.

The 6-7 August 2001 consultation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue was convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary at the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva. The moderator of the WCC Central Committee co-chaired the sessions. Building on long-standing WCC attention to the Palestinian question, the consultation’s aim was to strengthen broad international ecumenical support for a comprehensive peace, based on justice and security for the Palestinian and Israeli people.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser noted at the conclusion of the meeting that the exchange of ideas was important in “beginning to identify where the particular dynamics, urge and competence for action lie among us”. He drew particular attention to the recommendations contained in a report released on 6 August of an end-June WCC delegation visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), saying that they would also help guide decisions on appropriate action.

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the preacher at the consultation’s opening worship, declared: “Thank God Jesus said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ He did not say ‘Blessed are the peace-talkers.’… Peace, as all of you know, is not the absence of war nor the cessation of hostilities. Peace is that relationship between the so-called enemies, from which all the causes that made for war are no more. Making peace requires greater courage than going to war.” Following this injunction, consultation participants declined to draft a concluding communiqué in the form of a public statement. “Action is not another statement, no matter how dramatic,” Raiser affirmed. “We need to map out a way for us to actually work together.”

The main outcome of the consultation was the decision to form a small consultative group to develop realistic proposals for action with local and international partners in seven areas:

  • coordinating advocacy with governments
  • boycotting goods produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories
  • strengthening the “chain of solidarity” through prayer vigils
  • resisting the destruction of property and uprooting of people from their homes and land
  • encouraging and enabling the presence of ecumenical monitoring teams
  • improving communication, interpretation and media reporting on the conflict and its causes
  • increasing church, ecumenical, and interreligious delegations to and from Israel and the OPT.

It was also agreed that, together with the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and local churches, the WCC will develop a coordination point for ecumenical action in Jerusalem, and explore the possibility of linking it with an international coordination centre.

Picking up on a recommendation of the visiting delegation, it was agreed to propose to the WCC Executive Committee meeting 11-14 September that it consider a special focus on “ending the violence of occupation in Palestine” in the framework of the Decade to Overcome Violence, and possibly to call for an international conference on the subject. As Jean Zaru of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem noted, “Occupation is violence, and in the Decade to Overcome Violence, we have to expose the structural violence of occupation.”

The specific contribution to peace and reconciliation of churches and religious communities was emphasized throughout the consultation. “Being members and representatives of faith communities entails a commitment to a basic moral, ethical stance, to an integrity of the rights approach… that we hope will rescue the conflict from becoming totally embroiled in a pure power struggle,” Raiser noted in his concluding remarks.

Participants shared news on local and international initiatives being planned or underway related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They also heard from a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Darka Topali, who reported on actions and mechanisms in relation to human rights in Israel and the OPT.

In addition, Professor John Dugard, chairperson of the Human Rights Inquiry Commission and newly-appointed Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967, reviewed his mandate and emphasized the unique legal environment in which human rights violations in the context of military occupation are addressed.

Professor Richard Falk, a member of the Human Rights Inquiry Commission, summarized the findings and recommendations of the Commission. Respect for existing human rights and humanitarian legal norms, he said, needs to be part of and not an outcome of the peace process.

Consultation participants included moderators and members of the WCC governing and advisory bodies, Jerusalem church leaders, representatives of WCC member churches and ecumenical partners from around the world, and a selected number of partners working on peace initiatives in Israel and the OPT. The permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN office in Geneva also participated in the session. Several Palestinian participants were unable to attend due to travel restrictions imposed by the Israeli government.

Summing up the value of the meeting, WCC Central Committee member Bishop Aldo Etchegoyen of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina said: “Many people have lost hope in this moment. Many people think peace is impossible. Hope is necessary because this is more than a programme, this is our commitment in favour of life, justice, peace and people.”

Statement on the ecumenical response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Holy Land
WCC Central Committee – Geneva (Switzerland)

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Geneva, 26 August to 3 September 2002:

Recalling its “Minute on the Situation in the Holy Land after the Outbreak of the Second Palestinian Uprising”, adopted at its last meeting (Potsdam, February 2001) in which the Central Committee expressed

its deep sadness and grave concern at the new escalation of violence in the Palestinian autonomous and occupied territories as well as Israel over the last four months that has claimed a terrible toll of human life;

Alarmed and dismayed at the escalation of violence over the past twenty-three months that has claimed hundreds of lives in Palestine and Israel, and that has created the worst humanitarian catastrophe for the Palestinian population in recent history;

Expressing once again its grief and profound condolences to all the victims of the conflict, and especially to the families of those who have been killed in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories;

Profoundly regretting the inability or unwillingness of the international community, especially the governments most directly concerned, to respond to repeated appeals to establish a presence in the area to bring the parties to the conflict into compliance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council, thus allowing illegal actions to continue and a climate of mistrust, fear and hatred to grow;

Reaffirming its conviction that a just and lasting solution of the Arab and Israeli conflict must be sought through active negotiations based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973);

Reiterating its appeal that the universally accepted norms of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is the cornerstone of international humanitarian law and provides basic legal standards for the treatment of civilians during armed conflict or under occupation, be respected in all circumstances;

Reaffirming the right of an occupied people to struggle against injustice by non-violent means in order to gain freedom;

Reiterating its support for Israeli and Palestinian individuals and organizations who reject the logic of violence and occupation and are striving together for justice, peace, security, mutual understanding and reconciliation between their peoples;

Reaffirming the need for full respect of the Holy Places, and condemning all actions that violate them;

Condemning the occupation and misuse of church or other religious buildings and sites for military or other purposes inimical to their religious vocation;

Reiterating its support for the churches and Christian communities of the Holy Land as guardians of the Holy Places, for their efforts to sustain and serve their communities and their witness as peacemakers;

Reiterating its long-standing commitment to active dialogue and cooperation among Christians, Muslims and Jews;

Reiterating its conviction that Jerusalem must remain an open and inclusive city with free access assured for the Palestinian people and shared in terms of sovereignty and citizenship between the State of Israel and the future State of Palestine, and that Jerusalem can be a source of peace, stability and coexistence rather than of division and conflict;

1          Calls again and insistently for the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces from Palestinian territories, to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories;

2          Calls upon Israel, the occupying power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949;

3          Receives with appreciation the report of the actions taken by the Council in pursuing the recommendations of the Potsdam meeting of the Central Committee;

4          Endorses the Executive Committee Resolution on Ecumenical Response to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict of September 2001 and welcomes the considerable efforts of the General Secretary and staff to implement it;

5          Reaffirms, in the context of the Decade to Overcome Violence, the belief Christians share with Jews and Muslims that all human life is sacred in the eyes of God, and that the taking of human life is contrary to the moral and ethical teachings of the three monotheistic faiths;

6          Joins its voice with those many Christians, Muslims and Jews in the region and around the world who have strongly deplored all acts of violence related to this conflict, including:
Israel’s military invasion and reoccupation of the Palestinian territories, extra-judicial executions of Palestinian leaders, killing of Palestinian civilians, application of collective punishments, and destruction of Palestinian homes and property in Israel and the occupied territories; and all acts of terror against civilians in Israel and in the occupied territories, including especially the growing and deeply troubling practice of organized and indiscriminate suicide bombings;

7          Calls upon all concerned parties, including Israelis and Palestinians, to ensure the safety of all civilians, and to respect the universally accepted norms of international humanitarian law;

8          Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to enforce their declaration of 5 December 2001 in which they call upon the Occupying Power to fully and effectively respect the (Convention) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to refrain from perpetrating any violation of the Convention, …(and) reaffirm the illegality of the settlements in the said territories and of the extension thereof, and the need to safeguard and guarantee the rights and access of all inhabitants to the Holy Places;

9          Calls insistently upon the international community, especially the Quartet (United Nations, European Union, USA and Russian Federation), to take a more active, determined, objective and consistent role in mediating between the two parties based on the relevant UN resolutions and to do its utmost to stop further bloodshed and suffering;

10        Urges the Governmentof Israel to recognize the election of His Beatitude Patriarch Irineos I as the head of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem;

11        Calls on all authorities concerned not to interfere in the internal affairs of the churches;

12        Welcomes the positive response of many member churches and ecumenical partners to the call to join together, in the context of the Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace (2001-2010), in an action-oriented ecumenical campaign to end the illegal occupation of Palestine, in support of reconciliation between Israelis, Palestinians and others in the Middle East and their coexistence in justice and peace, and urges others to join them in:

  1. Supporting the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), as a concrete manifestation of Christian solidarity through active presence and witness of a non-violent resistance to the occupation of Palestine, working towards public awareness and policy change through advocacy;
  2. Calling for the suspension of the EU-Israel Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement that conditions “relations between parties, as well as the provisions of the Agreement itself on respect for human rights and democratic principles which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement”, until such time that Israel complies with these provisions;
  3. Pressuring governments, in particular the USA, to review economic aid to the State of Israel and to halt all forms of military cooperation with the State of Israel including instituting a strict arms embargo, until such time that Israel complies with UN Security Council Resolutions
  4. Providing generous financial resources towards the ecumenical humanitarian and human rights efforts that seek to respond to the ever increasing human suffering;
  5. Praying together for peace and for all those who work for peace and an end to all forms of violence in the Holy Land, seeking to embody our shared hopes and aspirations for peace with justice for all the peoples in these lands where our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was received as the Prince of Peace.

Minute on Certain Economic Measures for Peace in Israel/Palestine
WCC Central Committee – Geneva (Switzerland)

WCC Central Committee, Geneva, 15-22 February, 2005

In the conflict in Israel and Palestine there is a renewal of hope although there
is not yet a reduction of the threats that separate the parties to the conflict.

Palestinians have now organized two elections with constructive effect, despite
continuing occupation, and plan another at mid-year. The churches welcome that
momentum is building for peace and for solutions which credibly engage those
who must make peace, the powerful as well as the weak.

The churches note the growing witness and impact of church engagement that
includes both Israelis and Palestinians. The WCC-led Ecumenical Accompaniment
Programme (EAPPI) is present and supportive of both Palestinians and Israelis
who suffer under current circumstances. There is also growing interest among
churches in taking new actions that demonstrate commitment to and enhance
prospects for a just, equitable and lasting peace in both Israel and Palestine.

Notable among these are initiatives within churches to become better stewards
of justice in economic affairs which link them to on-going violations of international
law in occupied territory. The Central Committee takes note of the current
action by the Presbyterian Church (USA) which has initiated a process of phased,
selective divestment from multinational corporations involved in the occupation.
This action is commendable in both method and manner, uses criteria rooted in
faith, and calls members to do the “things that make for peace” (Luke 19:42).

The concern here is to abide by law as the foundation for a just peace. Multinational
corporations have been involved in the demolition of Palestinian homes, and are
involved in the construction of settlements and settlement infrastructure on occupied
territory, in building a dividing wall which is also largely inside occupied
territory, and in other violations of international law being carried out beyond
the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel determined by the
Armistice of 1949.

In this 38th year of occupation the desire for a just and equitable peace is growing.

For churches of the WCC such hopes are guided by positions and programmes
that reflect a search for truth amid much trouble.

The WCC has called, since 1969, for “effective international guarantees for the
political independence and territorial integrity of all nations in the area, including
Israel” and restated the concern at regular intervals, most recently in recognizing,
in 2004, Israel’s “serious and legitimate security concerns”.

In 1992, the WCC Central Committee stated that “criticism of the policies of
the Israeli government is not in itself anti-Jewish”. During the Oslo peace process
of the 1990s churches supported civil society projects of rapprochement between
communities in conflict in the Holy Land.

In 1995, the Central Committee established criteria for economic actions in the
service of justice, namely, that these must be part of a broader strategy of peace-
making, address flagrant and persistent violations, have a clear and limited purpose
plus proportionality and adequate monitoring, and be carried out transparently.

In 2001, the WCC Executive Committee recommended an international boycott
of goods produced in illegal settlements on occupied territory, and the WCCrelated
APRODEV agencies in Europe are now working to have Israeli settlement
products fully and properly identified before shipment to the European
Community in accordance with the terms of the EU’s Association Agreement
with Israel.

Yet illegal activities in occupied territory continue as if a viable peace for both
peoples is not a possibility. We are not blind to facts and must not be complicit
in them even unwittingly. The Central Committee, meeting in Geneva 15-22
February, 2005, therefore:

encourages member churches to work for peace in new ways and to give serious
consideration to economic measures that are equitable, transparent and non-violent;

persuades member churches to keep in good contact with sister churches embarking
on such initiatives with a view to support and counsel one another;

urges the establishment of more and wider avenues of engagement between
Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities pursuing peace;

reminds churches with investment funds that they have an opportunity to use
those funds responsibly in support of peaceful solutions to conflict. Economic
pressure, appropriately and openly applied, is one such means of action.

Statement on the War in Lebanon and Northern Israel, and Ecumenical
WCC Central Committee – Geneva (Switzerland)

WCC Central Committee, Geneva, 30 August-6 September, 2006

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Geneva,
30 August to 6 September, 2006:

Expressing shock and profound sorrow at the suffering and loss of life inflicted on
people across Lebanon and in neighbouring areas of Israel during the recent war;

Deploring the fact that this eminently avoidable conflict took place, was waged
with illegal and disproportionate use of military force, and was prolonged by the
failure of leadership at the highest levels of the international community to stop
the conflict;

Recalling church warnings from the outset on the imperatives of an early ceasefire,
that all parties meet their obligations under international law including the
responsibility to protect civilians, that all detainees be released or provided a fair
trial, and that Israel lift its blockade of Lebanon (WCC General Secretary, 13 July,
2006) and noting that none of these widely supported goals have been met promptly
or completely;

Reiterating the need for churches to aid those affected by the war and to take specific
advocacy measures to end conflict (WCC Pastoral Letter to Member Churches,
21 July, 2006);

Noting the public call for leading nations to end the paralysis at the UN Security
Council, the undermining of the UN Charter and acquiescence in the disproportionate
violence over Lebanon, (WCC General Secretary, 3 August, 2006);

Repeating the need for all parties to the violence and for the United States, the
European Union and the Arab states to exert their influence towards a sustainable
ceasefire and then to work for a lasting peace (WCC, LWF, WARC Joint
Appeal, 8 August, 2006);

Reiterating our call to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council
to finally implement the Council’s long-standing resolutions both for Lebanon
and for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories because “fault lines of instability
now run right through the region” and because “it is no longer credible to
act as if segmented or unilateral plans will work in isolation”. (WCC General
Secretary, 21 July, 2006);

Seeing this war for what it was: aside from combatants on both sides 43 civilians
dead in Israel and more than 1,100 civilians dead in Lebanon with one-third of
them children, more than 4,400 civilians wounded, and tens of thousands of homes
destroyed with the vast majority of this destruction taking place in Lebanon;
attacks by the Hezbollah militia on civilian areas of northern Israel causing deaths,
injuries and destruction; widespread fear and trauma among non-combatants;
other grave consequences in Lebanon, namely, a million people displaced, scores
of bridges, roads and runways damaged, and fuel, water and electricity infrastructure

Alarmed at violations of international law on armed conflict by the combatants
in this war and by the international community’s failure to ensure the protection
of civilians and the proportionate use of military force; by the Israeli military’s
extensive use of cluster munitions in south Lebanon, particularly when a ceasefire
was already imminent, leaving tens of thousands of unexploded sub-munitions
highly dangerous to returning civilians; and by the erosion of international
humanitarian and human rights law through chronic denials that illegal and
immoral actions have taken place;

Pledging to respond to the message from churches in Beirut and Jerusalem relayed
by the visiting ecumenical delegation during the war to sister churches around
the world: “Do not only pray for us – act!” (WCC, Conference of European Churches,
Lutheran World Federation and World Alliance of Reformed Churches, 16 August,
2006); churches, other civil society groups and a number of governments are eager
to see a radical re-engagement by the international community in peaceful and
equitable resolutions of the conflict in Lebanon and related conflicts in the Middle
East. We share that hope and are pledging to undertake a new initiative ourselves.

Accordingly, the WCC Central Committee:

• Calls for a sustainable and unconditional ceasefire, and lifting of the blockade
of Lebanon;

• Recommends that churches support the Lebanon appeal of ACT International
and commends all those who are assisting the war’s victims, the United Nations,
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, for monitoring violations
of international law during the conflict, and the Government of Sweden for
hosting a donors meeting on Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories;

• Urges the United Nations to establish an international inquiry to investigate
violations of international law, including possible war crimes, and the transfer
of arms used in violations of human rights during the recent Lebanon-Israel

• Calls on the governments that supplied arms to the combatants to suspend
transfers of arms and related material to Israel and Hezbollah pending the
results of such an investigation, and for those who have used cluster munitions
in Lebanon to provide detailed information on the locations, quantity and types
of cluster munitions used;

• Insists on the release of all detainees, or bringing them to trial under due
process of law and according to international norms, in Lebanon, Israel and the
Occupied Palestinian Territories;

• Calls upon the UN Security Council to implement the Council’s long-standing
resolutions for peace in Lebanon and in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian
Territories, including an end to the illegal 39-year occupation that is the vortex
of the region’s violent storms;

• Endorses the proposal for establishing a Palestine/Israel Ecumenical Forum
under the auspices of the WCC as the cornerstone of a comprehensive ecumenical
advocacy initiative on the Middle East; and calls WCC governing bodies,
member churches and ecumenical partners to enlist energy and resources in
these plans. The forum would catalyze and coordinate new and existing church
advocacy for peace, aim at ending the illegal occupation in accordance with
UN resolutions, be inter-disciplinary in deliberation and practice, and demonstrate
its commitment to inter-religious action for peace and to justice that
serves all peoples of the region.

May we together satisfy the hopes of suffering communities and churches. May
we together bear witness to God’s abiding love for all people. May a united ecumenical
community – in prayer and action – make a new and substantial contribution
to peace with justice in the Middle East.

Statement on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
WCC Central Committee – Geneva (Switzerland)

1. While the decision of the United Nations (UN) of 1947 (Resolution 181) to establish two states in the land of Palestine was partially achieved with the creation of the state of Israel, the second part of this resolution is still waiting for realization: the establishment of a Palestinian state. The ongoing settlement policy of the state of Israel in the territories which have been occupied since 1967 is an obstacle to the fulfilment of that promise and decision of the community of nations for a viable Palestinian state. The continuous settlement of lands beyond Israel’s internationally recognized borders (the 1949 Green Line borders) is almost universally rejected and met with widespread incredulity because it is illegal, unjust, incompatible with peace and antithetical to the legitimate interests of the state of Israel. Even as Israel’s own right to exist in security evokes sympathy and solidarity around the world, its policies of expansion and annexation generate dismay or hostility as they represent a direct indicator of the nature of the occupation.

2. There are some 200 settlements with more than 450,000 settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. They make the peace efforts by the international community more vulnerable and virtually impossible. Even the “settlement freeze” requested by Israel’s most important ally is met with yet another cycle of intentional delays, temporary concessions and tactical preconditions – eroding goodwill, destroying hope and pre-empting the meaningful negotiations which a good-faith freeze could facilitate. This refusal to freeze expansion further indicates a rejection of dealing with the core issue of the occupation and settlements as such.

3. It is heartening that the US administration and governments of many other states have expressed their determination to remove obstacles to peace and settle the Israel-Palestine conflict through negotiations that are both substantive and conclusive. This will begin a new relationship within the wider Middle East. However, it is discouraging that events in Occupied Palestinian Territory and East Jerusalem demonstrate yet again the unyielding nature of Israel’s occupation and the continuous way of creating new obstacles to peace.

4. Instead of freezing the settlement activities, work continues on large urban settlement projects and on many smaller projects. The Israeli government is still planning to build some 2,500 new housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel’s policies cause new and repeated displacements of Palestinian citizens inside the occupied territory. The demolition of houses that took place in June 2009 in East Jerusalem created untold suffering to the Palestinians. House demolition orders against hundreds of families were delivered by Israeli municipal and military authorities and hundreds of church-owned properties are at risk, especially from the expansion of Israeli-controlled settlements and housing in East Jerusalem. These are only isolated examples of a much larger tragedy.

5. The existence of these illegal settlements and their corresponding infrastructure including the separation wall, the confiscation of Palestinian lands beyond the Green Line, the so-called “security zones”, and the wide network of tunnels, by-pass roads and check points, deny Palestinians’ access to large parts of their land and water resources. They restrict their freedom of movement, diminish their basic human dignity and, in many cases, their right to life. They also have dramatic effects on the Palestinians’ right to education and access to health care system. They destroy the Palestinian economy by impeding movement of products, making the existence of a viable Palestinian state almost impossible to achieve. This increases the sense of dispossession and despair among the Palestinian population and contributes to fuel tensions in the region that will pose a great threat to the security of Israel.

6. The illegal settlements in and around Jerusalem endanger the future of the holy city that should be negotiated as part of a comprehensive peace agreement. The settlements isolate Jerusalem from the rest of the Palestinian West Bank, separating families and cutting economic, religious and cultural vital ties. The related Israeli policies in regards to the restriction of residency rights for the Jerusalemites through confiscation of their identity cards, limiting permits for construction of buildings and refusing family reunification, etc. are aiming at transforming the nature of the holy city that should be open to all and shared by the two peoples and the three religions.

Recalling the consistent position of World Council of Churches’ (WCC) assemblies, central committees and executive committees on this question, inter alia, rejecting any nation keeping or annexing the territory of another (Heraklion 1967, Uppsala 1968), the central committee of the WCC is:

7. Seized of the necessity for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to enforce their declaration of 5 December 2001, which reaffirms the illegality of settlements and of settlement growth, and calls upon the occupying power “to fully and effectively respect the [Convention]” (Geneva 2002).

8. Reminded of our long-standing assessment that “unilateral actions have radically altered [Jerusalem’s] geography and demography” (Harare 1998), that United Nations Resolutions 181, 194, 303 and subsequent decisions prescribe special status for Jerusalem as a “corpus seperatum under a special international regime”, and that the Geneva Conventions prohibit changes in the population and character of occupied territories which include East Jerusalem.

9. Convinced of the need for “an international boycott of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and for member churches and faithful to join in non-violent acts of resistance to the destruction of Palestinian properties and to forced evictions of people from their homes and lands” (Geneva 2001).

10. Convinced that churches must not be complicit in illegal activities on occupied territory – including the destruction of Palestinian homes and lands and the construction of settlements, related infrastructure and the separation barrier – and have opportunities to take economic measures that are “equitable, transparent and non-violent” against these illegal activities and in support of peaceful solutions to the conflict (Geneva 2005).

11. Dismayed at the imposition of expanding boundaries for one side and ever smaller confinements for the other, “extending Israeli civilian and military presence inside Palestinian territory, undermining all peacemaking efforts and…the whole concept of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state” (Geneva 2004).

12. Reiterating that Christian holy places in Jerusalem must be “integrated and responsive to Christian communities” whose “life and roots” in Jerusalem are increasingly threatened by settlement policies there (Nairobi 1975).

13. Recognizing the importance of research, documentation and debate about settlements by civil society groups, faith based and international organizations, and within Israeli society, including the Israeli government’s Sassoon Report of 2005.

14. Reiterating the WCC call to member churches to accompany and encourage the commitment to non-violence and active engagement in peace negotiations leading towards a comprehensive and just peace in which two nations can exist side by side in security and within internationally recognized borders.

Accordingly, the central committee of the WCC, meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, 26 August – 2 September 2009, calls member churches and related organizations to:

A. Pray for and assist people who are suffering because of the implantation of some 200 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem with related roads and infrastructure, violence by settlers, military and police controls which favour settlers, and restrictions of human rights and basic livelihoods for Palestinian citizens.

B. Hear the call of the churches of Jerusalem for concrete actions by the international ecumenical community toward a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis.

C. Urge both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to consider their own political sovereignty on the holy land with holy sites for the three monotheistic religions and continue to involve the “Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land” in the peace process and particularly regarding the status of Jerusalem and the holy sites.

D. Call upon their respective governments to distinguish between the legitimate interests of the state of Israel and its illegal settlements, and to align their actions with that distinction in the interests of peace.

E. Monitor and question governments that, on the one hand, provide Palestinians with humanitarian aid and development assistance while, on the other hand, pursuing foreign policies that allow Israel to inflict suffering on Palestinians, divide the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, maintain the blockade of Gaza, and impose various restrictions on the Palestinian economy.

The WCC central committee also:

F. Calls upon the occupying power to fully and effectively respect the Fourth Geneva Convention, including its prohibition against changes in the population and character of occupied territories.

G. Calls upon the government of Israel to urgently implement an open-ended freeze in good-faith on all settlement construction and expansion as a first step towards the dismantlement of all settlements.

H. Invites member churches and faithful to give moral and practical support to non-violent acts of resistance to the confiscation of land, the destruction of Palestinian properties and the eviction of people from their homes and lands, as the central committee recommended in 2001.

I. Encourages people on both sides of the conflict who have consistently supported the exchange of land for peace.

J. Commends member churches, specialized ministries and church peace networks for taking part in the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, 4-10 June 2009, convened by the WCC and with a focus on the issue of settlements.

K. Invites member churches that have not yet adopted the 2007 Amman Call to do so and to join with other churches working for peace as part of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum.

L. Reiterates the call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to enforce their declaration of 5 December 2001, which reaffirms the illegality of settlements and of settlement growth.

M. Reiterates the need for an international boycott of settlement products and services, for member churches to inform themselves about settlement products imported into their countries and for churches to practice morally responsible investment in order to influence businesses linked to the Israeli occupation and its illegal settlements.

N. Requests the US administration to ensure that the settlement issue is resolved as part of a comprehensive peace agreement which will include linked and sequenced steps between interim and final status measures.

The following prayer is offered as a resource to enable the churches’ engagement with the issue articulated above:

Jesus Christ, our brother and Saviour,

who walked the roads of the Holy Land and lived as one of her people,

walk with those who find their roads blocked and their families divided through illegal actions in an occupied land.

Jesus Christ, our brother and Saviour,

who challenged injustice and offered new definitions of power,

challenge us to express non-violent support to all who suffer and to speak out against the injustice they experience.

Jesus Christ, our brother and Saviour,

who embraced encounters with people from different faith and cultural communities,

embrace and uphold all who seek a just peace and reconciliation between divided peoples in the land of your human experience.

Report of the General Secretary
WCC Central Committee – Geneva

  1. The Identity and the Purpose of the WCC

a. One Mutually Accountable Fellowship of Churches

 Moderators, dear central committee members, honoured guests, sisters and brothers in Christ,  

  1. The quotation from the gospel of John, chapter 17, woven into the tapestry on the wall of this hall remains a reminder of who and why we are here together; today as a WCC central committee and everyday as staff serving the fellowship of churches in the WCC.“That they all may be one” is the rationale behind, beside and before us in everything we do as the WCC, not only when we are in this hall. As this was my focal point last time I addressed you, I see the mandate given to me in this perspective. The question I have in mind, therefore, when I report back to you for the first time, is: how do we respond to this call to be one in everything we do as a World Council of Churches? (The first part of my report focuses on who we are as the WCC and why we do what we do; the second part focuses on how we respond to the call in our structures and the work I am involved in; the third part discusses what we particularly are focusing on now.)
  1. The theme set for this central committee meeting is a comprehensive one. We are focusing on what it means to be one through the perspective of “just peace”, as we are preparing for the ecumenical peace convocation in Jamaica in May. We are also focusing on how this just peace is something that must grow from the most basic relationships among people, in arenas and on all levels, as we live in communities as women and men. I believe that we have a unique opportunity this year to show how this call to be one has many dimensions in our work for justice and peace, and that it can make a difference that we as WCC have this focus. We are called to be one so that the world may believe – that peace is possible.
  1. “The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” After the first year of my ministry here, I am even more convinced that this very clear and strong basis and purpose for our work is a great asset. Even though we are not yet in full communion, sharing together the Lord’s Supper which is the ultimate sign of our unity in diversity, there are still many other ways through which we express and manifest this unity. The prayer of Christ is our prayer. This year I participated in the week of prayer for Christian unity in a local prayer service in our chapel here in Geneva and at the Centro Pro Unione in Rome, a centre carrying the legacy of this week in a special way, going back before the Edinburgh 1910 meeting.
  1. We have agreed to have proper consensus processes behind our major decisions. We have proved that it is possible to work in this way, and we shall prove it again during this meeting. It is my experience that this has given a defined framework for the work for which I provide leadership every day. It helps us to know where we have consensus based on our common faith and our calling. In this way we can focus on how to respond to the life of the churches and the questions of ordinary people in this world, without shying away from the challenges and differences in the ecumenical movement today. As the WCC we offer one another a space for processes of consensus, requiring deeper listening to one another.
  1. We offer one another a safe space based on a differentiated consensus.That means working hard to clarify further how we build consensus in the midst of our diversity, knowing that we will not agree on everything, and therefore do not need to aim for this either. We offer one another a space where we can develop what I would call a strategic consensus.We can help one another to focus adequately on where the churches and the world particularly need for us to provide a joint prophetic witness now. We offer one another a consensus in mutual accountability. We come to the same table to give account to one another, to share our understanding and our concerns and to define our common challenges and common gifts. Our consensus must address the needs and reality of the world as it is. As member churches we show our mutual accountability regarding what we have seen together, yet the WCC does not decide what each church should do.I believe that this model of consensus is a gift to the ecumenical movement and to the churches – one way of being one in our time.
  1. What unites us is that we, through the gifts of God, have all received the samecall.The call to be one comes from our Lord Jesus Christ. It also comes from one another as churches, and it comes from the whole of humanity who needs to see the churches giving joint witness about Jesus Christ to bring peace and reconciliation that Christ brought to the world. The call to be one also comes from the creation that needs us to be one. We must live in solidarity with creation, with one another and with the generations coming after us. The call does not disappear just because this becomes more difficult for us or because our resources available are less than before. The call is not revoked by God when we find that we are not united in all matters we address and we have to struggle with one another. The call to be one is not put aside because there are so many other issues that deserve our attention.This call should be answered in all issues we undertake.
  1. The concern for the disciples in the prayer of John 17 is shaped by reflections on their relationship to the “world” and as such on their relationship within the communion of the triune God. They are, in everything, in God’s world. There is no possibility for the church to isolate itself in an ecclesial world. There is no theological reflection that does not take place in God’s vulnerable world and in the midst of the joy and suffering of ordinary people. In this last year I have seen more of that reality than ever before, and I am even prouder of belonging to a fellowship of churches now that I have seen you respond to the needs of many in your own contexts. In the prayers for one another and with one another, this becomes a shared reality for us all. Being accountable to God always implies that we are accountable to the world for the effects of our common – or broken – expression of faith, life and witness. Some points in the critique against the WCC through the decades have alleged that we are too focused on how we address the needs of the world. But I am grateful for this legacy, and I see that it is now widely respected and annotated by many actors in the ecumenical movement. We have helped one another as churches to see more clearly what it means to be church in the world where we – together with all others – live. The WCC has through its work made it difficult, if not impossible, for any church or movement to be taken seriously unless it addresses the basic challenges of humanity and God’s creation: the need for food, for justice, for peace, for dignity, for hope and love. This belongs to the common witness to Jesus Christ that can lead the world to believe in Christ.
  1. Having the distinction of the fourth gospel in mind, seeing “the world” as both the created universe of God and as the sinful, fallen humanity, we should reflect on our worldliness with humility and solidarity. We are not outside the world, but rather we represent Christ and are called to be somebody and something together in this world that breaks through the barriers of sin and injustice. We are called not to be of the world and carry on legitimizing the sinful attitude and act against the will of God, our creator. This is why we call for a community of just peace for women and men. We are part of the reality of this sinful world but not of this world in the sense that by our baptism and faith in Jesus Christ we also belong to the new creation and the new humanity, being a sign and foretaste of the new reality in Christ. Therefore, recognizing one another’s baptism (as we are challenged to do in a document presented to us from Faith and Order) is also to recognize the work of new creation and hope undertaken by the triune God.
  1. We are a global fellowship of churches and through this fellowship we have become – all of us – aware of the fact that the church is a global reality and has a global identity. This reality and identity have become much clearer to me through the last months, as I have visited, encountered, prayed with and for people from all parts of the world. We are a fellowship calling one another, supporting one another, challenging one another. Neither are we a loose fellowship of individuals with certain convictions, commitments and preferences; we are a fellowship of churches.We are a fellowship which must continue to be nurtured through providing intentional opportunities for global ecumenical formation as well as focusing on full and meaningful participation of young people at every level.

b.         One Organization with Many Challenges

  1. What is the unique added value of the WCC? I ask my colleagues this question every time we work on our plans and wherever I discuss WCC’s role and governing structures in different contexts with you and our partners. What do we add by organizing ourselves as a fellowship of churches in the way we do, with our governing bodies, commissions, secretariat, staff, programmes, meetings, communication and publications? By this question I continue the reflection that has been undertaken in processes such as The Common Understanding and Vision of the WCC, The Reconfiguration of the Ecumenical Movement, the work of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC and Ecumenism in the 21st Century as signalled by the last assembly and the subsequent meetings of the CC. Our call is to be a global, ecumenical, mutually accountable, committed fellowship of churches.And our call is to be an organisation established and nurtured to bring the member churches to conciliar relationships and to act together. This dynamic between the two is our strength and uniqueness.We can focus on the reality of the 349 member churches, the 560 million members, the daily life of joy and struggles, and remember the weight of reality in everything we do and discuss. However, we are not a hierarchical structure, with a lot of decisions coming from Geneva about what the churches should do. Together (with ecumenical partners and organizations) we serve, nurture, strengthen and improve these relationships with one another, as well as with other churches – and with peoples of other faiths. We do so by aiming at results through improved relationships; we do so by staying together so that we can act together.
  1. From speaking of the WCC as the “privileged instrument of the ecumenical movement” I also have been inclined to focus on how the WCC is called to give strategic leadership in the ecumenical movement through how we do our work, with whom we do it, as well as by considering what we give attention to and focus on. During the last year I have heard this as an expectation of the WCC from member churches, ecumenical partners, cooperating organizations and from others who know the ecumenical movement well. We can and shall fill this role with the understanding of our call and with the proper humility proportionate to the reflections I shared above. The strategic role is not for the cooperation of church leader’s initiatives only. I have been particularly challenged by how we as the WCC can continue and strengthen our role to lift up the voice for those who particularly need the attention of a worldwide fellowship of churches. We are called to address those in power to listen to the cry for justice and for a better common future. For example I have had the privilege to see how together we contribute to build HIV and AIDS-competent churches and theological institutions at the level of the streets of Nairobi, Kenya and in the public positions taken by WCC’s two member churches in Ethiopia, and I have discussed this role with religious leaders from the whole world in global summits in Utrecht and Vienna.
  1. It is important to reflect on who we are. But the call to be one is always followed by a reference to the purpose of our existence, a “so that”, leading our attention to somebody else, somebody for whom we are here. The hardworking and loyal staff has been able to do a lot of work and to keep our attention on our basis and our call this year, and to work more intensively with our partners, focusing on what the member churches are struggling with and what we do as churches every day around the world. In a time of limited financial capacities in the ecumenical movement we are forced to ask all the time: how do we do this together with the member churches, with the ecumenical partners and other partners, with their (your) facilities, their (your) human, financial and spiritual resources involved? We try to focus on developing our skills to involve you as churches and partners in our work, and to build competence among ourselves and for the churches. Therefore, the work at the Bossey institute, together with other activities of formation, must continue to have a high profile in our work. The focus is also on how we become more able to organize and follow up our programme work so that it can be done in close cooperation with the churches and the funding partners, not only in terms of transfer of financial resources. Perhaps the WCC can be even stronger when what we do is actually seen as what the churches are doing, as something that has a solid institutional and local rootedness yet also conveys some very important and crucial dimensions that the single churches cannot provide alone, through a strengthening of our identity as a global, ecumenical fellowship of churches.
  1. During the period since the last CC meeting, we have given much effort to making our work more financially sustainable and to planning and budgeting responsibly for the coming years. We have worked very carefully together with staff and the executive committee to deal with the consequences of adverse financial developments which have affected us all over the last years. For us in Switzerland, one of the most significant challenges has been the relative strength of the Swiss franc. Half of the WCC’s programme contributions and substantial membership contributions are received in Euro payments. Compared with 2009, the 2010 value of Euro contributions in Swiss francs has been lower by about 10%.This is one of the factors which has forced us to make difficult decisions, reducing our budgets for activities, and forcing us to plan ahead for lower staffing levels in 2011. This has been particularly difficult for those who had to receive notices of termination of contract, even in those cases where early retirement was concerned.
  1. On the other hand let me also point to some very important stories of hope. In this period we have been able to revise and control the 2010 budget, completing the year with an increase to unrestricted funds which exceeds the required target. The 2011 budget has presented many challenges and the proposed solution and approach will be presented in the finance committee for your consideration and approval later this week. We see now that several of our funding partners have had to adjust their contribution to the WCC as they face severe reductions in their (or your) income. Still, I see strong commitments to continue supporting the work of the WCC.But we have to address this reality, together. In this period WCC member churches have responded to the membership campaign, bringing about an approximately 35% increase in the number of churches paying membership contributions. We have also seen how churches and partners respond to the challenge of being committed partners of this fellowship in terms of in-kind contributions through hosting meetings, offering workforce and paying tickets for travels.Some of you have found or helped us to find other donors who can contribute.I want to express my deep appreciation to you, representing our member churches, and to you who represent other funding partners to the WCC.We are very encouraged by your support and commitment.
  1. Our Response to the Call to be One –

and Our Agenda the last year leading us to this Meeting

  1. The role of the WCC has been discussed and implemented in different ways through my months of service here. In our plenary sessions and our committees we will discuss how we can be one, work as one, be structured as one, appear as one and strengthen one another as one. At the same time we know that our work together in the WCC is enriched because we are different and bring varied experiences, traditions, opinions and gifts to the common table. In the programme highlights since the last central committee, you find some of the results of what we have undertaken through this period. The colleagues have led the work presented there, together with many of you, representatives from member churches, ecumenical partners, and specialized ministries and so on. Let me mention some of the issues and fields in which I have been involved and which we now embark on together these days in our quest for reaffirming the mandate of the WCC as a call to be one.
  1. The continued work on the structure, tasks and scope of our governing bodies will now be presented to all of us in the report of the Governance Review Continuation Group. I trust that together we will find a way to organize and equip ourselves better for the tasks and the realities we will face in the coming years. This report have been carefully worked on based on many questions raised and discussed in the WCC for many years.It has taken into consideration signals from you, from the executive committee in two meetings, as well as from the many responses from the churches and partners to questions on governance and WCC’s role. Participating in ecumenical gatherings of different kinds the last year, I was offered many opportunities to have sessions particularly discussing these issues and the direction in which we are heading. I have heard a lot of understanding as to why we need to do this, and I hear a lot of partners listening carefully and asking whether they should go in the same direction. I am convinced that the WCC can still be seen as offering the most important ecumenical arena, that we can have a more clear and efficient way of managing our work and that we can have structures that strengthen our accountability and trust at all levels and in the whole structure.
  1. As we seek a fuller expression of the fellowship, responding to an ever changing and dynamic ecumenical landscape, it is important that our structures meet the challenge of this reality.Taking seriously our concerns for good stewardship, for finding a balance between ‘living the fellowship’ and running the organization, between governance and management – these are the types of discussions I have had with churches and ecumenical partners around the world.Therefore, the proposals offered in the governance report are critical to the ongoing sustainability of the council and indeed, our work within the wider ecumenical movement.I trust that together in this meeting, we can discern a way forward that gives clarity to the way in which we manage our work and that strengthens our mutual accountability.
  2. In the planning of the upcoming 10th WCC assembly in Busan, Korea (October 2013) the new assembly has wider participation and a more elaborated role in the ecumenical movement. We now come to the phase of focusing our preparations through a decision on the theme of the assembly. I am convinced that we will find a way to have this discussion and come to a shared understanding of what the assembly should focus on. I think both proposals presented by the Assembly Planning Committee (APC) can provide us with direction for our work, but as you can see from this report, the WCC in one way or another must know and focus on how, in everything we do, we respond to the call to be one in our role to bring reconciliation and peace into all contexts. In the work of the broadly representative APC as in all our programme work, we continue to develop our role of being one in many dimensions. I trust that through this assembly we can bring something new to the ecumenical movement. How can the unique added value of the WCC be seen through the way we carry out this process? I will be visiting Korea after the CC meeting and I look forward to reflecting together with the churches there on how the assembly can contribute to reconciliation and unity in the Korean peninsula.
  1. In discussing our role in meetings with our many ecumenical partners I have heard their expectations of and questions to the WCC. This took place in the regional and national councils, the Christian World Communions related to the WCC, the specialized ministries – particularly as many of them are now organized in ACT Alliance, the Roman Catholic Church, The World Evangelical Alliance and The Lausanne Movement, partners in mission and evangelism, youth organizations such as WSCF, YMCA and YWCA, the neighbour institutions here in Geneva and others. In many of these conversations we have shared the vision of being one and discussed our different contributions. I have heard a lot of confirmation of the WCC as having a unique role to call together, to convene encounters in shared ecumenical spaces, to bring the perspectives and the interests of ecumenical partners together.
  1. Some partners see the WCC as the distinct and “significant Other” with whom they do not identify, yet. But I understand that the WCC can have a role far beyond our fellowship of member churches by being the including Other and not the excluding Other. I do not believe in the concept of “enemy” as a helpful model to understand how Christian churches and groups deal with one another. I know well about differences and divisions, but I do not think that the concept of the enemy helps us to identify our road forward in responding to the call of God here. This is more than diplomacy work.It is also a matter of being highly qualified in the skills to bring together, to listen well, and to find the common ground and the common tasks we can and should address together.
  1. In my many encounters with member churches and their representatives in different ecumenical settings, I have had an enormous privilege as new general secretary to receive the confirmation of why you are members and how we share the WCC basis, why you expect a lot from me and my colleagues. I appreciate very much, for example, the open discussions with the regional ecumenical organizations (REOs) like the one we had in Nairobi in the general committee meeting of AACC, in the assemblies of the CCA in Kuala Lumpur and in New Orleans for the NCCUSA. I have also had several opportunities to have this kind of discussions with leaders and representatives from the REOs in Latin-America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. I have been particularly encouraged by how you have invite me to discuss with you what is your call in your context, addressing, of course, how do we help one another as churches by being honest in our trustful reflections with one another. I hope that we can continue this coming 18 months, and develop the most fruitful mutual relationships between the global organization of the WCC and the regional ecumenical bodies.I particularly appreciate the relationships with my colleagues, the general secretaries of the REOs.Last year I had the honour of congratulating one of the first women in this position and current the only one, Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat-Lebang of CCA.
  1. In visits to member churches and contexts where the need for ecumenical solidarity, accompaniment and mutual sharing and encouragement is absolutely vital, I have received feedback about the importance of the presence of the WCC that I would love to make you experience as well. In visits to Orthodox church leaders I have heard that I am in their prayers and that “we want you to take new initiatives.”African church leaders affirmed that though we come from different countries and are racially diverse, we still belong to their fellowship.The response of the Copts here in Geneva after visiting and praying with them in their church and here in the chapel following the tragic event in Alexandria at the new year was significant. The list is long, and I have attached information about major visits and events in which I have participated, etc. In the different delegations, living letter visits and other occasions it has been striking to me how much it means to know that you are part of a fellowship that cares when you experience tribulations and challenges as churches.We have to make sure that the WCC has the necessary resources to continue to fill this role in the future.
  1. In meetings with political leaders, ambassadors, heads and representatives of other global organizations, participants at the World Economic Forum, UN and its organizations, and many others, I have been challenged to make the profile of the WCC clear and understood as one, representative position of what the churches are doing. When we now re-staff and develop the UN Liaison Office in New York together with ACT Alliance, we continue to give this office a role of strategic joint representation of our whole constituency and the many challenges and experiences you represent.
  1. In encounters with representatives of peoples of other faiths, and interfaith organizations, the role of the WCC has been discussed in terms of how we bring a common contribution and witness from our member churches to them. These discussions have also been focused on how we as a fellowship of churches are in solidarity with one another, particularly in terms of accompanying one another when we are in minority situations. We must now reflect together on what kind of partner do the other groups and institutions of faith find in the WCC, and how can the WCC play a role of bringing the churches to a united witness of Christ and a new commitment to follow his commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves.
  1. In interviews, press releases, public statements etc., I have had many chances to bring our common voice to the public attention. I think we can do much more to make sure that our contribution is heard, even discussed. As we had to implement some serious cuts in our own budgets for communications and in our support to joint enterprises for the ecumenical movement, like ENI, the challenge is even more clear: How do we communicate more in many forms and channels what we are doing and what our positions are? How do we make our message clear and relevant? However, let me confirm that the WCC still retains its commitment to an independent ecumenical news agency, and in the case of ENI we remain that agency’s largest contributor.
  1. It is not only I who have a responsibility to make the WCC known; when you speak, you also speak as part of this fellowship. Nevertheless, I am well aware of my own responsibility to make our common voice heard, how I must build on what the WCC has said and defined as our common positions, but I must also do this with the confidence that together we can listen to how the Spirit helps us to respond to the changing world and realities we are facing.
  2. We are continuing these important processes in this meeting of the Central Committee. Let me therefore, elaborate a few of the observations and statements I already made during this year. Some of them you will find are a continuation of the reflections presented in the attached compiled documentation of some of the speeches and sermons I presented during this first fourteen months of my service. A list of my major visits and encounters has also been attached as an appendix to this report, so that you may have an overview of where I have been representing you and this fellowship.

III.      To be One – in some of our Focal Points

a.         To be One in the Quest for Peace – IEPC

  1. Since the first day after my election, I have discussed with many of you how we can make the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Kingston, Jamaica, in May this year a reality as we move from vision to an event. Now we together shall help to find the way from the discussions and events in Jamaica to clear new steps towards a common commitment for a “just peace”.
  1. This event will manifest and strengthen our common efforts towards the ambitious goal of overcoming violence. Launching the Decade to Overcome Violence was a brave and courageous step taken in Berlin 2001. We know that it has provided much input to discussions and actions addressing the inhuman, de-dignifying and sinful acts of violence. We also know that there is so much more to be done, so much more to be overcome, in all our contexts, as well as in our churches. It is quite demanding to establish a joint understanding, a profile and a logistic for a meeting of this size and character.
  1. Making decisions to convene something like this– as we did some years ago in the Central Committee – shows the potential roles of the WCC to manifest our call to be one. However, it also manifests the hard tasks of the WCC stake holders, you as CC members and staff to make the idea be more than just an idea. We have been focusing on how the churches together with many of our partners of good will have a call to be one in our many initiatives and efforts for the goal of a just peace. We as the WCC have an historic opportunity to bring the call to be one and the call to be peacemakers into a new joint agenda. The churches are always called to do something to bring more just peace, whatever happens and whatever level we are addressing.
  1. In Cairo last month I experienced one of the great reminders of how we can be united in these efforts. In a Christmas homily, H.H. Pope Shenouda spoke of peace as he responded to the massacre in Alexandria several days before. His words had effect in Egypt and far beyond. He called for justice at the same time he called the worshippers of Christ to be those who follow the Christmas message of love and peace for everyone, and not to follow the logic of revenge and hatred. This will stand as an outstanding example of the prophetic message of the church for just peace, inviting all peoples of faith to overcome violence. I was also told about the positive effect it had on Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt. The churches should be part of discussions on how to protect everyone from violence and how to overcome injustice, how to build a just peace for the future. In these particular times we see how important it is to accompany one another in prayers and support, so that each church can find its own way to contribute to justice and peace in its own context. In the Middle East these challenges are particularly pressing at this time. The last weeks we have seen the people of Egypt moving together towards justice and democracy. It is a miracle and an encouraging sign for all of us that justice and freedom can be established through peaceful and non-violent actions. Just peace is the best way forward! There is an important role for us a fellowship of churches to continue the reflections on and our contributions to democratic processes and to building sustainable justice and peace. The role of the churches and the ecumenical actors in the present developments in Sudan is another significant example. Here we also clearly see the need for joint inter-faith initiatives.
  1. This meeting in Jamaica is also a unique opportunity for contributions from church leaders (and in the last months many of them have announced their interest and their presence) and from peace workers in many organizations to find a joint call and a common arena. The many initiatives and partners will be visible, our common objective leading us. The traditional CCIA approach to peace issues, influencing political processes will be combined with the social movements of commitment and the peoples of prayer. I must also mention the youth perspective, as many events at the IEPC will look at the role of young people in different issues of violence. The Stewards Programme, a pre-IEPC youth event, a special evening and the sunrise vigil on the World Sunday for Peace all focus on the contributions of young people in addressing these issues.
  1. Besides calling us to greater unity for peace, IEPC with its four just peace themes is a vibrant reminder to the world and the churches that we are called to seek peace together. The four themes invite us to work for peace with justice in the international arena, in the economy, with the earth and in our local communities. These themes of just peace reflect and enhance a deeper understanding of what constitutes and creates violence and injustice in our lives and in our relationships with others, among nations and with the whole of creation. Just peace is a peace to which many may contribute and in which many can engage.
  1. In the closest relations in our families, neighbourhoods and local churches, as well as in the realities of national and international tensions, conflicts and injustices, we are present as churches. But we are also there as individual believers, as women and men, as citizens with our duties and our rights, as mothers and fathers. The many dimensions of our need for Saalam, Shalom, Frieden, Fred, Pace, Peace come into our focus when we address the need for just peace in this way.

b.         To Be One as a Community of Women and Men

  1. The focus on just peace has relevance also in our reflections about how we live together as a community in our local villages, in our cities, and in our churches – as women and men. We should discuss how the issues of gender and the reflection on relations between women and men in the churches can get the attention they deserve in our fellowship. Therefore, we have brought this perspective into the theme and the Bible studies and prayers for this central committee meeting. I am glad we can address these issues in the context of the quest for unity in our way of addressing violence and working for justice and peace. They belong to these very basic questions of human relationships and if we do not have a focus on the gender dimension of these issues, we will not take them seriously. This is true in the local contexts, the churches, the national and international contexts in which we work, including the ecumenical movement. One concern of mine has been how we as the WCC can give a proper contribution to the open and just community of men and women, through our work and practice.
  1. I am not convinced that we make enough time and or have the capacity to address these issues at this central committee meeting as we could or should. However, I think it is important that we discuss our understanding of mutual accountability as a fellowship of churches, our identity as WCC, our call to be one, the changing ecumenical landscape, the role and content of diakonia, relations to peoples of other faiths, our theological contributions to unity, our contributions to build a society of just peace – also from this important perspective. It has everything to do with all of these issues. One important example from the last year was the global participation in the women’s discussion in Bethlehem on the meaning and the impact of the Kairos document.
  1. Following my convictions of the benefit for all of a well gender-balanced staff community and leadership of the staff, I have tried to maintain a focus on this – inspired also by the intervention from the female presidents at the last central committee meeting September 2009. We need to work in short term and long term perspectives here, as always, but we need to remain focused on this dimension of our recruitments.
  1. Planning my travels, I have tried always to have both men and women represented in my team. I have also emphasized that I need to meet with both genders as I visit churches and partners, that means that I need sometimes separate meetings to meet more than the male leadership of some churches. I have also expressed my vision to meet with youth, which is always a great inspiration and make me believe that we really are in a movement. This has become other opportunities to discuss the challenges of the churches as of tomorrow with both men and women, as I did during the CCA Assembly in Kuala Lumpur.

c.         Jerusalem – the Source and Paradigm for our Call to be One

  1. The call to be one is the heart of the legacy of the struggling Christ, expressed in prayer in Jerusalem.We should recognize Jerusalem as a holy city for Christians in the world in at least three perspectives. First, it is time to lift up Jerusalem as a city of prayer, a shared city of neighbours and peoples of faith who pray – and there should be free access to their holy sites.This should be the case for people from all the three Abrahamic religions, Jews, Muslims and Christians. Jerusalem has a central place in the life of Jesus Christ and in our holy texts. Therefore, wherever we read or listen to the word of God, there will be a connection to this city of God’s great revelation and action with all of humanity. We did this in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year, a city where we are receiving the fruits of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  1. Secondly, Jerusalem is a holy city for the people of the local churches as this is their place of prayer and worship. The local Christian presence and witness in Jerusalem and in the whole region has been continuous despite many tragic episodes in history. Christians have build churches, monasteries, institutions, etc. in Jerusalem and in the land around Jerusalem and they have their most holy places for worship in Jerusalem. It is a task of high importance to steward these significant buildings for the church today and tomorrow, and the churches and their leaders taking care of this undertake this task with a lot ofchallenges. The local Christians are constantly joined by pilgrims from different parts of the world, particularly for Christian holy days. Pilgrims should also be witnesses to the reality of the Christian churches and communities.The numbers of local Christians in Jerusalem, in the Holy Land and in the surrounding places and countries are diminishing in a way that should cause the attention of all Christians around the world.
  1. Thirdly, Jerusalem should be a holy city in the sense of a city of justice and peace. Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Christians and Muslims. The three religions should share this city and have equal free access to the holy sites within it.The faithful in all three religions need to find ways of living together in justice and peace so that the cradles of our religions can be sign of hope for the whole of humanity. This should be a constant and effective contribution and dimension of our understanding of Jerusalem as a holy city, all over the world. I believe that the churches emphasizing Jerusalem as a shared, holy city can be a contribution to both Jews and Muslims understanding of this city as a holy city for the other as well as for themselves.
  1. Fascination with the significance of Jerusalem, sometimes linked with strong eschatological ideas, has brought Christians to Jerusalem through generations. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding of Jerusalemand its significance among Christians has, on occasion, lead to destructive ways of thinking and condemnable acts in the period of the crusaders, and even beyond. Some Christians have in our time supported ideas implying acceptance of occupation, rendering Jerusalem a city of injustice, where its call is to be the city of peace and justice par excellence.
  1. Different partners, Jews, Muslims, and Christians, have addressed me this last year to discuss the Kairos document written by Palestinian theologians. Churches have been discussing it and many of them have reached another stage in the debate about how to relate to Jerusalem through the process. I am convinced that this document has become a true reminder of a reality that sometimes is forgotten or hidden.Palestinians continue to live under occupation, as they have done for more than 60 years.There is a Palestinian Christian community that prays and works for the future of the Palestinian people living together with the people of Israel in peace and reconciliation. I therefore invite the WCC member churches to listen to Palestinian Christians in this document and to respond to it in accordance with what implies on all of us the imperative of our costly solidarity and prayers for a just peace.
  1. The WCC has always recognized the internationally legal status of the state of Israel, as defined by the UN Security Council. The WCC has never been and will never be an anti-Jewish organization. And I believe that we have much more we can do together with representative Jewish partners to promote peace for all in this area. But among those in our constituency belong those who are affected by the occupation. Our sisters and brothers there also belong to many other churches around the world. And among our friends are the Jews and Muslims living in this area who need a sustainable peace without occupation, without violence of any kind – wherever it comes from, without fear of destruction and an ongoing culture of mistrust and hopelessness. Any theological reflection or statement legitimizing attacks or discrimination of any particular group or people must be abandoned. However, we do also convey the theological critique of any theology that defends the occupation and the annex of land and property that has happened in this area.
  1. The churches in Jerusalem are part of the fellowship of churches and of Christianity in the Middle East.Along with the churches in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, they belong to the holy land in a broader sense. This region faces a lot of challenges in addition to the Israeli/Palestinian tension, challenges that have become even clearer in the political crises that have accelerated in the last weeks. The region has many challenges – economically, politically, geopolitically, in terms of relationships between groups of faiths within the same religion and between religions, tensions between different ethnic groups, etc. The churches in the region belong there, they have their roots there, they have their history there and they have their mission there. In our time many of them find themselves in much challenged positions, and we see that for many of them significant numbers of members are moving away from the region. The Coptic Orthodox Church and other churches in Egypt are now living in a very challenging time for their nation and people. Church leaders from Iraq will provide us with important first hand information about the reality in which they live during this meeting.
  1. The WCC is a fellowship of churches, including many churches in the Middle East; therefore, we are there – we are not only talking about them. The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) is an expression and a precious ecumenical tool in the region.We are a global fellowship called to be one in solidarity, in accompaniment, in supporting one another in our mission. The understanding of the mission of the church in this region was developed over many years and it is particularly important to let the churches continue to do so.That churches in other regions of the world support and accompany them is a sign of being one. We must as the fellowship of churches counteract whatever can be seen as a prolongation of any colonial approach to this region.At the moment it is a priority to work with the churches in the Middle East, and to pray for just peace in the future of all peoples of the Middle East.

d.         To be One in Changing Tides or Changing Ecumenical Landscape?

  1. During the last year we celebrated 100 years since the meeting of Edinburgh 1910. This historical meeting specifically focused on how the call to be one and the call to share the gospel belong together, how the lack of unity was an obstacle to witnessing to Jesus Christ. In September of last year, the WCC executive committee made a visit to the hall where the 1910 delegates had gathered. It struck me how large the hall was, how complicated the logistics must have been, how long the participants must have had to travel, and how many impulses they gave to ecumenism and mission! During this CC we will evaluate the 2010 centenary celebrations and the contribution of the WCC in this meeting. There are important questions to be dealt with: did the meeting give a broad enough expression of Christianity today; did the 2010 meeting succeed in bringing the perspectives from the churches and our understanding of the call to be one clearly enough? I trust we have been blessed by this event and that we can learn from it as well, as we ask whether our role of promoting visible unity in mission is best filled for the benefit of all if the WCC plays a supportive and not a leading role.
  1. Several movements have flowed, been inspired by, or come to be after Edinburgh 1910. The ecumenical movement is one of them. The Edinburgh conference gave me important indications that it is appropriate to speak of the one ecumenical movement. Particularly I was encouraged to see this at the conference and in different encounters I have had with leading figures in the so-called evangelical movement, e.g. as I was invited to The Lausanne Mission conference in Cape Town, South Africa. I see a convergence that is definitely different from 35 years ago, the distance between Lausanne and Geneva is not felt to be that far anymore. We have convergence in agendas; most of what has been on our agenda for decades is also being actively addressed by evangelical institutions (e.g. advocacy work, human rights, peace building, environmental issues and relations to people of other faiths). Several of our member churches have many connections or even very much identify themselves with both movements. We all know that we have the challenge to live and share the gospel and there is a growing understanding that we are doing so every Sunday, every day.
  1. I think there are open doors and changes in this landscape we should be aware of, and the WCC should be ready to fill its calling to promote unity in a wider sense than before. Our consensus procedures help us to invite broad reflection and participation in prayer and mission, without giving up the call we have to be one in our work for justice, peace, human dignity and human rights.
  1. Another important signal in this respect is an invitation I received to speak at the Pentecostal World Conference. At the beginning of the last century the Pentecostal movement started bringing people of different classes and colours together in prayer, Spirit-lead worship and ministry to the Lord Jesus Christ. I was deeply moved when some said to me that in our Joint Consultative Group of WCC and Pentecostals there is now a difference in how many Pentecostal leaders see their place in relation to the ecumenical movement and the WCC. They spoke of changing tides. This joint work is now bearing new fruits, led by Rev. Jennifer S. Leath from the WCC side.
  1. In my several encounters with the Roman Catholic Church, I have been richly blessed and encouraged by the commitment to respond to the call to respond to Christ’s prayer. This has been the message I have received in my official visit to HH Pope Benedict XVI, and to the two official visits to the outgoing and the new presidents of the PCPCU. I have also been very inspired by the conversations with people representing Roman Catholic movements actively supporting and driven by the vision to be one, like Sant’ Egidio and Focolare. In meetings with Catholic leaders from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Israel/Palestine, Malaysia, USA, Nigeria and several other countries, I have received strong messages about how important the joint efforts with our member churches are at the local and national levels.
  1. We have planned for a double plenary during this meeting, giving us an opportunity to share and reflect together on the landscape in which we move. Landscapes change as we move, at least our perception of them changes. But we also may think that we can change the form of the landscapes, at least by what we plant there. We are watching important changes that we need to discuss and changes we ourselves intend to initiate or support. I think that the future role of the Central Committee meetings as an expression of living the fellowship implies that it would be useful to have this as a standing item.

e.         To be One in our Actions and Advocacy of Churches Together – WCC and ACT Alliance

  1. The talk about changing landscapes is, of course, a dramatic, drastic and dangerous image. Natural catastrophes like volcanic activity, earthquakes, raising of the water level due to the effects of climate changes, landslides, floods, drastically changed weather conditions and melting of glaciers is exactly what so many of you have been facing the last year and months. Many of you have been involved in handling these crises in your own lands, your own neighbourhoods, many of you responding through supporting humanitarian aid. The new ecumenical body ACT Alliance – Action of Churches Together – began its operations at the same time as I came into this office, January 2010. Immediately the colleagues and partners in ACT Alliance had to, and showed that they could, coordinate the activity and responses of their own partners, already present at Haiti as it was hit by an earthquake on 11 January. As I saw myself in June together with an ecumenical delegation, the catastrophe and the losses are unimaginable, and the resilience of the people of Haiti is unbelievable. I also saw that the political ability to handle it was very weak, the international community willing, but not quite able to handle those challenges. I think we saw how ACT Alliance is our main tool to respond and to work for development that can lead to sustainable changes for Haiti. However, we also saw that the churches themselves were hit severely, that they need to unite, to be strengthened in their relationships to one another and to other institutions within society. ACT Alliance has already proved to be an important instrument in coordinating emergency responses and proper development aid in many places around the world. The birth and life of the ACT Alliance is closely linked to the WCC, and so should it be, into the future, for the credibility and benefit for both organizations.
  1. The strong desire for changes we see now in many countries in the Middle East is a sign of how important it is to have political and democratic rights respected, and to have a focus on the wellbeing of the people in terms of the right to food, work and freedom to worship safely and without fear. Initiatives providing humanitarian aid and fostering economic and social development must be accompanied with work for better governance, improved relationships between peoples of different cultures and religions, advocacy for human rights, work for peace and reconciliation, struggles against violence, etc. Therefore, there are important links between the operational types of work of the ACT Alliance and the role of the WCC, especially now that WCC is not operational in the same way as it was in former times. This must be realized through coordination of our advocacy work, as we have already been planning together in our UN Liaison Office in New York.
  1. The churches were doing diaconal work for centuries before WCC or ACT Alliance existed. In countries around the world many of the health institutions are run by churches or church-related organizations. The WCC as a fellowship of churches can help the ACT Alliance to find its role together with churches wherever ACT Alliance members are working. We should provide the ACT Alliance with reflection and definitions of the values for this kind of work and capacity building for church leaders to be in partnership with ACT Alliance members. The WCC can offer a way to see the sense of accountability to the local churches to bring greater quality in the local and national rootedness of the work, so that the churches cooperate with ACT Alliance beyond the operational dimension of the work. Therefore, we need to develop further the understanding of diakonia of the churches, prophetic diakonia for change and for a better world to live in as well as the role of diakonia as a way to show that we are one.

f.         Need for new Theological Initiatives in our Quest to Be One

  1. As I visited Santiago de Compostela last December, I had a chance to reflect on how we need different expressions of the ecumenical movement. Even in December, the cathedral was full of pilgrims, among them dear friends I met in the headquarters of the Armenian Church in Jerusalem, visiting their sisters and brothers in another holy site for pilgrims. In my conversation with the Archbishop of Santiago, accompanied with the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Spain (one of our CC members), we reflected on how the pilgrimage of our time has also become an ecumenical movement, how those in Santiago de Compostela serve all people seeking peace with God on their way.
  1. I was in Santiago to address a conference launching a statement on the need for defining the human rights to peace. The co-partners with the WCC in this conference were well aware of how the ecumenical movement can be and has been able to lift up these dimensions of basic human needs, in principle and concretely. As the WCC will do it again in the IEPC in Jamaica this year. However, I was also reminded of my first visit to Santiago de Compostela, in 1993, accredited as journalist in the Faith and Order World Conference. One story carried a title quoting Archbishop Desmond Tutu saying, “Let the theologians clean up the mess!” He showed how the fight against apartheid required serious, joint theological reflection on our faith, ecclesiology in our context, as well as how the urgency of the fight against apartheid made it difficult to spend a lot of time trying to overcome the divisions related to issues of faith, ministry and sacraments still dividing churches, with divisions even between churches united in their fight for justice. We have needed and we definitely need more theological work – serious, committed, qualified theological work – in the ecumenical movement and in our work as the WCC.
  1. Partners like the Roman Catholic Church and some Pentecostals participate fully in this work, and I am particularly interested in how we can continue work like those studies we are now finalizing on the mutual recognition of baptism and the ecclesiological study on the nature and the mission of the church. I am sure that the theological reflections we will undertake (e.g. in a Faith and Order consultation in Moscow this year) on our common roots in the texts of the Early Church will follow up on important reflections from earlier periods of great impact for the ecumenical movement, as happened before and during the Second Vatican Council. Theological reflection on ecclesiology and unity based on our mutually accountable relationships among the member churches and the growing relationships with other churches is urgently needed. It must reflect on our response to the call to be one in many different dimensions, as I have indicated.

g.         To Be One in our Joint Christian response in a world of interfaith relations – and some growing tensions

  1. The WCC has more than forty years of experience in interfaith relations. This means that not only do we have institutional experience but also that the WCC has had a significant role in bringing the reflection and the practice of interfaith relations to where they are today. This pioneering work has been one of the very challenging sectors of our programme, and the discussions in our governing bodies during the years prove that.
  1. Today hardly anybody challenges the need for the WCC and member churches to address these issues. There are at least three major reasons for this. Firstly the reality of interfaith relations has become what all churches share – more or less. For many churches it has always been an important dimension of their identity. This is not an optional luxury for any of us. Secondly, the reflections have matured in many ways – theologically, practically, and politically. We do not have to give up our Christian identity, but we have to reflect on what it means together with peoples of other faiths or peoples of no faiths. We also see how important these issues are on a daily basis for coexistence. The basic Christian ethical questions are: How can I love my neighbour, how can we be the good neighbours the other needs? Thirdly, the WCC has a role to fill in this interfaith landscape internationally. We are called upon and our contribution is expected. We now have time to reflect on what the character of the WCC’s work should be in the next years. There are many experts and professors dealing with these issues who are in or related to our churches. There are also a lot of committed, highly qualified people who have these particular issues as their task in the churches and in our related partner organizations. As WCC we should be a global partner for others. We represent values, experience from all kind of cultures and contexts and a particular sensitivity as to how the churches themselves experience and address people of other faiths in their context. We also have the special responsibility of bringing these issues into a fruitful ecumenical discussion. We are addressing the issues of human rights in the context of religious dialogue. WCC should be particularly qualified to see the wholeness of these questions and have a multifaceted approach.
  1. At the end I would like to offer some personal remarks. I have checked this report against what I said and thought as you asked me to take this responsibility as general secretary of the World Council of Churches. I find that to a large extent what I identified as our major themes and challenges has proven to be accurate. I am deeply grateful for the good cooperation with colleagues, with my fellow officers, with you as a governing body, and with the churches and their representatives. I am sometimes overwhelmed by your supportive attitude. Now I am even more convinced that the work is important, that it is demanding, and that it bears fruits of blessing for the churches and for the world. I do believe that God opens doors for us, that we are called to follow Christ in new relationships. I have had the most busy and most blessed year of my life. I am particularly inspired by the encounters and cooperation with youth –they are the future and building blocks of the ecumenical movement. Their participation is always a great inspiration and I highly value their contributions to our present and future.
  2. May God continue to give us all strength and joy in this work and in this fellowship!

Statement on Economic Measures and Christian Responsibility toward Israel and Palestine
WCC Central Committee – Geneva (Switzerland)

Our hearts are heavy. Too many people, both Israeli and Palestinian, have died already in this latest eruption of violence. In recent weeks, the level of tension and violence in Israel and Palestine has again reached frightening proportions. We bear witness to the senseless deaths of young people and the suffering visited on Israeli and Palestinian families. On the 1 July 2014, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary expressed deep sorrow over the suffering and loss of life in the region. He affirmed that “collective retribution is not justice, nor will it lead to peace”. Unfortunately and sadly, we are still witnessing demolition of Palestinian homes, acts of revenge and collective punishment measures by the Israeli army against Palestinians, dangerous threats of increased Israeli military attacks against Palestinians in Gaza, and rocket attacks from Gaza. The current violence comes with the failure of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the loss of prospects for a political solution.

Following the many calls issued by Palestinian Christians – most directly and succinctly in “A Moment of Truth,” the Kairos Palestine document issued in December 2009 – churches around the world are deeply concerned by these recent, highly destructive developments. It is the call of the churches to seek for Jerusalem “the things that make for peace” (Luke 19.42). Seeking peace for both Palestine and Israel is a longstanding commitment of member churches of the WCC.

As we face the possibility of yet another escalation in violence, we are called to consider again what actions churches around the world may take to help reduce the violence and promote peace for both peoples. As the WCC Central Committee noted in 2005, several churches have undertaken “initiatives to become better stewards of justice in economic affairs which link them to on-going violations of international law in occupied territory.” Initiatives that manifest solidarity with those who are oppressed are clearly the kind of actions which should govern the lives of people in covenant with God. In the present context of growing violence, such economic measures offer hope for promoting peace. In the spirit of promoting healthy Jewish-Christian relations in which we speak honestly and forthrightly with one another, we affirm the Central Committee’s statement of 1992 that “criticism of the policies of the Israeli government is not in itself anti-Jewish” any more than criticism of Palestinian Authority policies is anti-Palestinian;

We note the actions taken recently by the Presbyterian Church (USA) to divest from corporations that profit from Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The United Methodist Church has also sold the shares of a corporation that provided equipment for prisons in the West Bank. These decisions were taken after long and careful deliberations which took into account all factors and perspectives. We also note actions by churches which work closely with their national governments so that goods produced in all Israeli settlements be labelled as manufactured in occupied Palestinian territories. These efforts are bearing fruit especially within the European Union. We also note the actions of those member churches that have voted to boycott goods produced in the Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian lands. As we said in 2005, these actions are “commendable in both method and manner,” using “criteria rooted in faith.” The purpose of these actions is to bring a just peace which will benefit both Palestine and Israel, peace that will save lives of Israelis and Palestinians and their families from grief.

We have been called by Palestinian Christians to stand with them in this moment of deep pain. In faith, hope, and love, we are called to join creative peaceful resistance to illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. While we seek peace with justice for all persons and communities affected by this conflict, we also acknowledge the profound imbalance of power in Israel’s favour. We are confident that might will never make right, and with Martin Luther King Jr. affirm that the “moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice”.

We refuse to stand by silently and let baseless incitement and religiously-sanctioned extremism take even one more Israeli or Palestinian life. In this particular situation, we are convinced that targeted economic measures are an important nonviolent strategy for promoting peace and abating violence. We are called to take action in support of peaceful solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Economic pressure, appropriately and openly applied, is one such means of action. However, recognizing that different churches have complex relationships with Israel and Palestine, the WCC Central Committee acknowledges that the outworking of this statement will be different for individual churches in their own contexts.

In addition to the important policy approaches outlined in the 2005 minute, which we reiterate today, the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Geneva, Switzerland from 2-8 July, 2014 therefore:

  1. Reminds churches with investment funds that they have an opportunity to use those funds responsibly in support of peace with justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.
  2. Requests the wide ecumenical family to accompany individuals and churches singled out for criticism because they seek to provide prophetic leadership to end the occupation of Palestine and to build a just peace;
  3. Encourages its member churches to make investments that also help maintain a vibrant Palestinian Christian presence and witness in Israel and Palestine;
  4. Encourages its member churches to engage in dialogue with Palestinian churches, civil society actors, and Jewish partners. Rather than reacting to the political controversies around economic measures, churches should thoughtfully and prayerfully consider how they might respond from the foundation of their faith;
  5. Stands in solidarity with all who are working for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel.