Letter from the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit to WCC member churches in Palestine and Israel concerning the renewed wave of violence in Jerusalem. 19 October 2015
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ – our Lord and Saviour, the Prince of Peace, the child of Bethlehem.
I write to you at a time of renewed violence between the peoples in the land of Christ’s birth, to commend the witness of our Christian sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel, and to express the concern and solidarity of the global ecumenical fellowship represented in the World Council of Churches. We are following with increasing dismay events throughout the region and especially in the Holy City of Jerusalem, which we hold in our hearts and prayers as an open city of two peoples (Israelis and Palestinians) and three faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). We continue to work and pray for a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis, promoting respect for the status quo of the holy sites of Jerusalem as an important contribution to reducing current tensions.
The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations around the world to join together in 2015 for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. Congregations and individuals around the globe who share the hope of justice shall unite during the week to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness.
The theme of the week in 2015, to be observed during 20-26 September, is:
“God has broken down the dividing walls”(Ephesians 2:14)
06-12-14, Jericho,Zbeidat, I. Tanner. Childrens paitings of the separation wall, on playground walls. Photo EAPPI / I.Tanner
How to get involved
As participants in the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, from 20 to 26 September 2015, churches around the world shall send a clear signal to policy-makers, community groups, and their own parishes about the urgent need for a peace settlement that ends the illegal occupation and secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples.
05.06.15 Bethlehem, Checkpoint 300. EAs joins locals and internationals to pray for an peace at the weekly Wall Prayer. Photo EAPPI/ H. Jonsson
Pray, Educate, Advocate
Already, planning has begun for the World Week for Peace 2015, during which participants will organize and join in events and activities around the following three principles:
1. Praying with churches living under occupation, using a special prayer from Jerusalem and other worship resources prepared for the week.
2. Educating about actions that make for peace, and about facts on the ground that do not create peace, especially issues related to prisoners.
3. Advocating with political leaders using ecumenical policies that promote peace with justice.
06.07.00 Qalandia checkpoint, Palestinian woman held in queue at checkpoint on her way to Jerusalem. Photo EAPPI / J. Griffin
This annual observance of a week of prayer, education, and advocacy calls participants to work for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, so that Palestinians and Israelis can finally live in peace. It has been 66 years since the creation of the State of Israel. This has not led to the creation of an independent Palestinian state but has only deepened the tragedy of the Palestinian people. It is now 47 years since the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza overwhelmed the peaceful vision of one land, two peoples.
31.10.07, Bethlehem, Gilo 300 terminal, Palestinains on their way to work queue at checkpoint 300 Photo EAPPI
Yet the dream of one nation cannot be fulfilled at the expense of another.
23.11.13. Tulkaram, Children living on the hill of the Ras at Tira village with settlement Alfe Menashe in the background. Photo EAPPI /Elina
The action week’s message is that now:
It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.
It’s time for freedom from occupation.
It’s time for equal rights.
It’s time for the healing of wounded souls.
Wonderful worship and educational resources are available in different languages – please make them part of your church events. In social media, please use the hashtag #WallWillFall to talk about this year’s World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel.
*Source: World Council of Churches website
World Council of Churches: World Week for Peace 2015: resources
Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli military and civilian control since the Oslo Accords of 1993, is dotted with Bedouin villages. Many of the Bedouin currently living in Palestine fled there in 1948 from their ancestral lands in the Negev Desert as the newly-founded State of Israel pushed its way into the Negev. The Bedouin purchased land from the local people and initially were able to continue their simple farming – growing crops and shepherding.
Since 1967 when Israel began to occupy the West Bank, Area C has also become dotted with Israeli settlements, the building of which is illegal under Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, a convention ratified by the State of Israel.
30.07.15 . South Hebron Hills, Um al Kher next to Karmel settlement. Photo EAPPI / S. Lise Bedringaas