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Presiding Bishop writes to Secretary Clinton on Palestinian evictions

August 5, 2009

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has written to United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the August 2 eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in Jerusalem.

"This action undermines the quest for peace led by you and President Obama and represents a step backward in the peace process and a likely precursor to further violence," the Presiding Bishop writes.

The letter was sent to Secretary Clinton today (August 5). The following is the text of the Presiding Bishop"s letter.


August 5, 2009

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State

United States Department of State

Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

I write to join my voice to those of many others, lamenting the decision of the Israeli government to evict two Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem on Sunday, 2 August. This action undermines the quest for peace led by you and President Obama and represents a step backward in the peace process and a likely precursor to further violence.

I appreciate your response that these evictions are "deeply regrettable" and that "the eviction of families and demolition of homes in East Jerusalem is not in keeping with Israeli obligations." I particularly appreciate your words that such action will not be "recognized as changing the status quo." I urge you and the Administration to build on these sentiments by calling unequivocally for the immediate return of the Palestinian families to their homes.

The United States government must not allow Israel to act with impunity. This does not serve the peace process, nor the long-term interests of the people of Israel. It certainly does not serve the cause of justice for Palestinians. No matter how many times the Israeli government may declare East Jerusalem to be part of Israel, under international law it remains occupied territory.

The Episcopal Church is firmly committed to policies that embrace Palestinian aspirations for a viable sovereign state, alongside a secure state of Israel, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states. We continue to seek an end to the Israeli occupation while guaranteeing Israel"s security and recognition of its right to exist. Our positions are based on resolutions adopted by our General Convention (The Episcopal Church"s primary governing body). These resolutions also stand in opposition to the settlements built on Palestinian land, the building of the ‘separation barrier" or wall where it violates Palestinian territory, and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Previous resolutions also call for an end to violence by all sides and a firm renunciation of anti-Semitism.

I deeply appreciate the determination of President Obama, who from the beginning of his Administration has sought a just resolution to this conflict. A successful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will provide enormous dividends for peace in all of the Middle East, and lead to a more secure world. The appointment of George Mitchell as the Administration"s special envoy has given renewed hope that this conflict may yet be resolved and the two peoples may be able to share this land with equal dignity, security, and freedom to build a more abundant life.

I pray that through your efforts Israel may come to realize that continuing to build and develop settlements presents a severe barrier to a just peace, and that an immediate freeze is required, beginning with vacating these Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.

Thank you for your unrelenting work towards a just peace and please know that people of good will on both sides of this conflict share this goal with you for the benefit of the two peoples and three faiths that embrace the Holy Land.

I remain

Your servant in Christ,

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop

The Episcopal Church

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Nancy Cox Davidge
Public Affairs Officer