Anglican Peace and Justice Network expresses dismay at Mideast impasse

August 14, 2002

Members of the international Anglican Peace and Justice Network issued a statement August 12 expressing 'deep dismay at the continuing impasse between Israelis and Palestinians' and deploring 'the unbroken cycle of violence that has claimed too many innocent lives on both sides.' (Full text on the Episcopal Church's Peace and Justice Ministries web site at /page/office-government-relations) The statement assured both Israelis and Palestinians of 'our love and support in ending this long and troubled conflict. We embrace all those who have lost loved ones in the violence and extend our deepest sympathies.'

The primary cause of the present violence, according to the statement, 'is the continuing Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza imposed by Israel which inflicts humiliation and suffering on the Palestinian people, inflaming passions and breeding further violence. Collective punishment of the Palestinian people must be brought to an end.'

Members of the network said that they were also 'deeply troubled by the use of U.S. made weapons and aircraft provided to Israel and being used for attacks on civilian targets,' urging a moratorium on 'the use of such weapons which violate U.S. law.'

In outlining steps 'to achieve a sovereign and independent Palestine living alongside a secure Israel recognized by and at peace with her neighbors,' the statement urged the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Occupied Areas; the introduction of an international peacekeeping force in the Occupied Territories to maintain security; humanitarian relief for the Palestinians; and the immediate resumption of negotiations.

'The unconditional recognition of the state of Palestine must be hastened if peace is to prevail in the Middle East,' the statement concluded. It also called on the faith communities, especially the Anglican Communion, to pray for peace and 'to exercise a ministry of presence in the region as a gesture of solidarity with the people.'