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United Church of Christ (UCC)
& Disciples of Christ
2005 General Synod Resolution

Tear Down the Wall - Resolution of Witness


Source: http://globalministries.org/mee/resolutions/ucc-resolutions-related-to-israelpalestine/2005-tear-down-the-wall.html

THEOLOGICAL RATIONALE

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.  (Ephesians 2:14)

A central tenet of our Christian faith is the possibility for reconciliation among peoples.  This human reconciliation through God's love was demonstrated by Jesus Christ, and reported to the people of Ephesus by Paul.  We are called to be people of reconciliation and called to engage in the act of reconciliation.  Barriers to reconciliation exist in many forms and in many places.  When barriers are constructed, hostility that exists becomes exacerbated.  Differences between peoples can only be addressed through bringing them together, not by adding further divisions.  By breaking down walls that separate, we actively seek peace and reconciliation in the world in an attempt to follow Jesus' example.  In doing so, we seek a death to hostility.

BACKGROUND

In June 2002, the State of Israel began an ambitious construction.  Construction of a separation barrier—also known as the "security fence" and as the "Wall"—commenced and continues to this day.

According to Israeli plans, the barrier will be over 400 miles (650 kilometers) in length, at a cost not less than $1.6 million per mile ($1 million per km), and will exceed $1 billion for the entire project.  The main barrier takes on many forms, including 8-meter high cement walls, 3-meter high electric and barbed-wire fences, and a combination of the two.  The infrastructure of the barrier that also includes a buffer zone on both sides, surveillance cameras, trenches, and observation posts compounds what Israeli human rights activist Jeff Halper calls the "matrix of control" of settlements, by-pass roads and checkpoints.

The barrier violates multiple international conventions, agreements, and resolutions, including article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter (prohibiting the use of force to violate territorial integrity), the Fourth Geneva Convention (prohibiting the destruction of land or property and the practice of collective punishment), and both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economical, Social and Cultural Rights (defining rights of movement, property, health, education, work and food.)  The barrier also is contrary to UN Security Council resolution 242 which calls for the "Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent [1967] conflict."

The barrier encroaches into the occupied Palestinian territories from along the entire perimeter of the West Bank, frequently abutting or intersecting Palestinian villages, while leaving agricultural fields, shops, and family members on the opposite, Israeli-claimed side of the border.  In places like Qalqilya, the barrier loops prominently into the West Bank, enveloping entire Palestinian villages and creating ghettos with a single, narrow checkpoint guarding the entrances to these villages.  It will result in Israel's effective annexation of roughly half of the West Bank, displacing and disconnecting Palestinians from their homes, families, neighbors, and fields.  It is this encroachment and the resultant humanitarian crises that the Israeli Supreme Court addressed in its June 30, 2004 ruling, even as it found the motivation for the barrier, based on security concerns, justified.

In a more broad-reaching ruling on the barrier, the International Court of Justice ruled on the barrier's legality in a July 9, 2004 verdict.  In sum, the decision rendered the construction of the barrier contrary to international law, recommended that the State of Israel end its construction and dismantle existing segments and that Israel pay reparations to those who have suffered loss as a result of the construction, and instructed the United Nations to pursue necessary means to address the illegality of the barrier.  Both Israel and the U.S. disregarded this ruling and thereby dismissed the relevance of international law.  The U.S. continues to provide more aid to Israel than to any other country in the world.

The impact of the visually, physically, psychologically and spiritually offensive barrier on the Palestinian people has been more devastating than abstract facts can convey.  Homes have been demolished, water supplies have been cut off, fields have been razed, villages divided, and access to the other side has been cut off.  Farmers have lost their fields or lost access to them. Faith-communities—including Palestinian Christians—have been denied access to houses of worship.  Families have been split.  According to UN estimates, 680,000 Palestinians (30% of the West Bank population) are directly affected.  The Sabeel Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem reports that "Palestinians have been separated from their places of employment, their farmlands, hospitals, schools, places of worship and their families.  In the first phase of the wall alone, 100,000 trees have been uprooted; 35,000 meters of irrigation networks have been destroyed; and 75% of teachers and students living in the construction areas have had difficulty arriving at school."  These effects further deteriorate the quality of life of the Palestinian population in the occupied territories.

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS the ongoing violence has created fear, whittled away trust; and both Israel and Palestine have been deeply wounded politically, economically, physically, spiritually, socially, and psychologically; and

WHEREAS the Israeli government, as part of its de facto policy of settlement and colonization, continues to construct the separation barrier, also known as the security fence and the wall, and plans to extend it to approximately 400 miles (650 kilometers) at a cost not less than $1.6 million per mile ($1 million per km), thereby rendering the internationally-endorsed Road Map for peace and other proposals for a negotiated two-state solution unachievable; and

WHEREAS  the wall unilaterally changes an international border without direct negotiations between partners, effectively annexes nearly 50% of Palestinian West Bank land and destroys the contiguity of Palestinian life and land, rendering a Palestinian state unviable; and

WHEREAS, the barrier succeeds in confiscating Palestinian agricultural fields, water, and other natural resources, contributes to unemployment and cuts populations off from such essentials of life as employment, education, health care, worship and family; and

WHEREAS history demonstrates that walls build barriers and limit the opportunity for people in conflict to be in contact with each other and reconcile their differing points of view, and the U.S. has previously demanded that walls of separation be torn down;

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls upon the Israeli government to cease the project to construct the barrier, tear down the segments that have already been constructed, and make reparations to those who have lost homes, fields, property, and/or lives and health due to the barrier and its effects as security for both peoples can best be achieved through an end to the occupation and efforts to encourage access and contact, rather than restricting and denying it; and

LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ urges the U.S. government to persuade the Israeli government to abide by international law and agreements and withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories; and

LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls upon the U.S. government to engage actively, fully and fairly in a peace process that will lead to the peaceful coexistence of two states: Israel and a future Palestine; and

LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ encourages its members at all settings of the United Church of Christ to engage in prayer, study, and dialogue about the barrier and to raise diligently with their governmental officials these concerns.

Funding for this action will be made in accordance with the overall mandates of the affected agencies and the funds available. Wider Church Ministries is responsible for developing the strategy and program designed to implement this resolution.



2005 General Synod Resolution

Concerning Use of Economic Leverage in Promoting Peace in the Middle East


Source: http://globalministries.org/mee/resolutions/ucc-resolutions-related-to-israelpalestine/2005-economic-leverage.html


SUMMARY

This resolution calls on the United Church of Christ to exercise multiple strategies to promote peace among all of God's people in the Middle East.

BIBLICAL, THEOLOGICAL, AND ETHICAL RATIONALE

God's activity in human history has moved peoples from conflict to concord, God's desire for peace, broadly understood: the absence of war (Lev. 26:6); reliance on the abundance that God provides (Ex, 15, Ex. 17); harmony among peoples (Ps 133); new relationships among those who have been separated by animosity (Lk 10:27-37). Moreover, God's prophets have demonstrated God's will for the faithful to invest their lives and their property, even when such investment seems foolhardy (Jer 32). God's covenant with Israel remains unbroken (Rom. 9-11).

BACKGROUND

The world has witnessed unresolved conflict between the peoples whose social, economic and religious lives are rooted in the lands of the Middle East. The United Church of Christ has affirmed the right of Israel to exist and has deplored the violence directed against its people. At the same time the United Church of Christ has enduring relationships with Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians, who suffer greatly under the occupation of their land.

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has affirmed its commitment to Israel's safe and secure existence within internationally-recognized borders, neighboring an independent Palestinian state; and

WHEREAS the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has continued to advocate on behalf of justice toward a resolution of the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, advocacy and action which includes but is not limited to education about the realities on the ground and urging the US to play the role of honest broker; and

WHEREAS the Twenty-Third General Synod of the United Church of Christ affirmed its participation in and commitment to the World Council of Churches' Decade to Overcome Violence (2001), condemning all forms of violence including but not limited to the violence perpetuated in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including acts of suicide bombings by Palestinians; and the use of force by Israelis in perpetuating occupation of Palestinian lands; and

WHEREAS General Synods of the United Church of Christ have been particularly mindful of its relationship in Christ with Palestinian Christians, and notably the mission relationships mutually developed over decades of engagement and presence; and

WHEREAS the General Synod of the United Church ofChnst has affirmed its relationship to the Jewish community, condemning anti-Semitism in all its forms, and affirming that God's covenant with the Jewish community remains inviolate (1987); and

WHEREAS the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has called for the use of economic leverage on behalf of oppressed people in a variety of circumstances;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 25th General Synod call upon the Covenanted Ministries, Pension Boards, United Church Foundation, Conferences, local churches and members to use economic leverage, including, but not limited to: advocating the reallocation of US foreign aid so that the militarization of the Middle East is constrained; making positive contributions to groups and partners committed to the non-violent resolution of the conflict; challenging the practices of corporations that gain from the continuation of the conflict; and divesting from those companies that refuse to change their practices of gain from the perpetuation of violence, including the Occupation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all settings of the United Church of Christ are urged to remain committed to interreligious dialogue and to participation with Jewish, Christian and Muslim partners to work for peace in Israel-Palestine; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 25th General Synod requests the appropriate national bodies to provide materials that may be used by all settings of the church to discern how economic leverage can be used to support the development of Palestine and Israel as two independent, secure, economically viable states; and

FINALLY BE IT RESOLVED that the 25 General Synod calls upon these settings to create for and disseminate to the local churches study resources on the range of issues contributing to violence and oppression in the Middle East and ways to be involved in promoting peace.

The funding for the implementation of this Resolution will be made in accordance with the overall mandate of the affected agencies and the funds available.

Adopted July 5, 2005