Together with all Christians around the world, the member churches of the World Council of Churches look to the Holy City of Jerusalem as the location of the foundational event at the origins of our faith. The WCC recognizes Jerusalem as a city of three faiths and two peoples. We also recognize the central significance and acute political, social and religious sensitivity of the status of Jerusalem in any final and sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
In a move that has caused grave concern in the region and the wider international community, President Trump has announced his administration’s plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Such a step breaks with the longstanding international consensus, and almost seven decades of established American policy, that the status of Jerusalem remains to be settled. It also pre-empts a negotiated resolution of this most difficult issue in any final peace agreement, which must be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.
The WCC shares and strongly affirms the concerns expressed by His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, that this measure will have serious implications for security and stability in the Middle East, will undermine the efforts of the American administration to resume the peace process and fuel the feelings of Palestinian Muslims and Christians alike. Together with King Abdullah, we also stress that “Jerusalem is the key to achieving peace and security in the world”.
The United States must play a pivotal role in encouraging and supporting constructive negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, if the moribund peace process is to be revived. But the imposition of this decision on the status of Jerusalem will only lead to more disillusionment, increased tensions, and diminished hopes. It cannot serve the interests of a just peace in the region. The World Council of Churches calls on the US Administration to reconsider its position on this key issue, and to exert its maximum efforts in promoting renewed negotiations among Israelis and Palestinians for a genuine, just and sustainable peace.
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
World Council of Churches