Churches announce international Israel Palestine peace initiative

By staff writers
May 9, 2008

The World Council of Churches is inviting member churches and related organizations to join a week of advocacy and action for a just peace in Palestine and Israel. Participants will contribute to a common international witness for peace in early June 2008.

The tragic events in Israel and Palestine call people of faith and goodwill to act on their shared hopes that justice will be done, the WCC says, encouraging Christians to get involved.

Churches and specialized ministries in 12 countries and the global Pax Christi network have signed on for the week so far.

Jerusalem’s churches and related organizations in Palestine and Israel are at the center of the initiative, including the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme of the WCC. A growing circle of participants now reaches five continents - Australia, Belgium, Canada, Hungary, Israel/Palestine, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.

More are welcome and needed says the international churches' ecumenical body.

The Rev Samuel Kobia, general secreatry of the WCC explained: "Just as 2008 marks 60 years of aspirations dedicated to securing a homeland for Israelis, 2008 also marks 60 years of the disintegration of Palestinian society and dispersal of some 750,000 Palestinians as refugees."

He continued: "To date, the situation in the Palestinian Territories reflects the absence of peace and a continuation of occupation and conflict. While Israelis celebrate the 60th anniversary of their state, Palestinians are marking six decades of displacement and dispossession. May this anniversary year cause us all to recommit to the goal both Israelis and Palestinians share that neither can attain without the other, namely, a just peace."

The World Council of Churches head added: "To that end, from 4 to 10 June 2008, WCC member churches and related organizations on five continents are organizing a collective public witness for peace. From Australia to Canada, Norway to Sri Lanka to South Africa, churches will observe this anniversary year with a week of awareness-raising and advocacy called International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel."

"It is time, we believe, for both nations to share a just peace," Kobia concluded.

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