As part of a week-long series of events to promote a just peace in Israel and Palestine, Palestinians and Israelis will be praying for peace in front of several Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the separation wall and in houses of worship in Jerusalem and across Palestine.
They will be part of a worldwide effort to affirm the human dignity and rights of all peoples through the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, an initiative of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which is taking place from 29 May to 4 June 2011.
The aim of the week for peace is to encourage concerned communities and individuals to make a common witness by participating in worship, educational events, and acts of advocacy in support of a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
“With the Palestinian-Israeli peace process at a standstill, people of faith are increasingly searching for ways to express their support for a just and lasting peace for all in Palestine and Israel,” says the Rev John Calhoun, the convenor of the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel.
He continued: “The WCC has set aside this period of seven days to encourage churches and individuals to worship and pray, to educate and be educated, and to take action in support of a peaceful and just end to the occupation of Palestine, in accordance with United Nations resolutions.”
The common focus of this year's events is Jerusalem. Policies and actions taken by the Israeli government in occupied East Jerusalem continue to threaten the future of Jerusalem as a viable home for two peoples – Palestinians and Israelis – and three faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Furthermore, the restrictions on access by Palestinians to places of worship in Jerusalem, the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem in order to expand illegal settlement building, and the denial of Palestinians’ right to family reunification in the city, as well as the withdrawal of the residency permits to many Palestinians, as is the case with Bishop Suheil Dawani of the Anglican Church in Jerusalem, constitute grave violations of basic human rights.
The activities planned for the week demonstrate the initiative’s commitment to peaceful action in support of a resolution to this long running conflict. Local church groups and peace activists will advocate with government officials and community leaders through educational seminars, open forums and public demonstrations focusing on the urgent need to bring to an end the ongoing injustices taking place in the region.
The WCC invites member churches, religious and community organisations, and all people of faith to join with peacemakers in the region and around the world by participating in the events of the week.
* For more information on the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, and to view a list of events being planned by country, go to: www.worldweekforpeace.org