United Church of Canada urges end to boycott of Palestine

By Ecumenical News International
27 Apr 2007

The moderator of the United Church of Canada has written to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging his government to "urgently and immediately resume financial support to the Palestinian Unity Government" - writes Ferdy Baglo.

The United Church moderator, the Rev David Giuliano, said the embargo should be lifted, "so that the Palestinian people can live the life of dignity to which they are entitled". He asserted: "The international financial boycott of the Palestinian Authority has resulted in further crippling existing economic conditions for Palestinians."

Much of the international community cut financial aid to the Palestinian Authority when Hamas took over the Palestinian government early in 2006, refusing to rescind its commitment to violently destroy Israel. In February, however, Hamas and the Fatah group of the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, signed a power-sharing agreement.

The United Church said in a press statement released on 24 April that Giuliano recently returned to Canada following a 10-day visit to the Middle East as part of a six-person delegation who had travelled to Israel and Palestine from 25 March to 3 April.

The main governing body of the Lutheran World Federation on 26 March called on the international community to end the economic blockade imposed on Palestinian territories to enable the restoration of infrastructure there.

"The core problem in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which, if not solved, is a threat to peace not only in the Middle East but throughout the world," the LWF Council, meeting in Sweden, noted in a resolution.

The United Church said the purpose of its delegation was to visit the heads of churches in Jerusalem, and to meet other Christian, Jewish, and Muslim partners with whom it has worked ecumenically for more than 20 years.

"We listened as they talked of the suffering endured by all peoples in the region but especially by Palestinians as occupied people now also living under international economic sanctions," said Giuliano.

He noted that the creation of the Palestinian Unity Government and an initiative of Saudi Arabia were "extremely positive steps toward peace that should be fully supported and encouraged by the international community".

The UCC said that since August 2003, it has called for a "just resolution to the conflict" that would require an end to violence by both sides; the dismantling and withdrawal of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; respect for human rights and international law; and a secure, economically viable, and sovereign Israeli state living in peace, side by side with a secure, economically viable, and sovereign Palestinian state.

[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

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