Statements   
Major written statements and reports published
by churches, governments, organizations
and the United Nations. 
  
United Methodist Church
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General Conference
 

The General Conference is the United Methodist Church’s top legislative gathering. The conference meets every four years to consider changes to church law and to take positions on theological and social issues related to the church’s work, as well as planning church ministries and programs and setting the quadrennial budget. It is a gathering of the global denomination and the only body that may speak officially for the United Methodist Church.

The next General Conference will include 1000 voting delegates from around the world and will be held April 25 - May 4, 2012 in Tampa, FL.



ON THIS PAGE:

1. Resolutions of the United Methodist Church
• Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land (2012) read it »
Holy Land Tours (2000) read it » 
Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah) (2000) read it »
United Nations Resolution on the Israel-Palestine Conflict (2000) read it »

>>>  Download the four resolutions above:
in a Microsoft Word document »
in a pdf file »

>>> Download a pdf file of all UMC resolutions current in 2010 that pertain directly or indirectly to Palestine and Israel (47pp, 476K), click here »


2. Actions and petitions at General Conference 2008 read it »

3. Statements by the UM Council of Bishops 
read it »

 


  
      

This resolution is an update of a resolution by the same title that was passed by the 2004 General Conference. That had been submitted by the Middle East Network of United Methodists of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. It was passed by the General Conference on May 1, 2004 by a vote of 877 in favor and 19 votes against.

That resolution was readopted by General Conference 2008; after some light amendments, the resolution that follows was adopted in Tampa, Florida at General Conference 2012. It was submitted to General Conference 2012 by the General Board of Church and Society, UMC.



Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land
Resolution 6111, United Methodist Book of Resolutions 2012
Adopted on May 2, 2012

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We join with Palestinian Christians as well as our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters in feeling a deep sense of rootedness to the land that has special meaning for our three religious traditions. We celebrate the diversity of religious customs and traditions throughout the Middle East.
 
Jerusalem is sacred to all the children of Abraham: Jews, Muslims, and Christians. We have a vision of a shared Jerusalem as a city of peace and reconciliation, where indigenous Palestinians and Israelis can live as neighbors and, along with visitors and tourists, have access to holy sites and exercise freedom of religious expression. The peaceful resolution of Jerusalem's status is crucial to the success of the whole process of making a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis.   
 
We seek for all people in the Middle East an end to military occupation, freedom from violence, and full respect for the human rights of all under international law.
 
WHEREAS, the prophet Isaiah cautioned against coveting the lands and homes of one's neighbors: "Ah, you who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is room for no one but you, and you are left to live alone in the midst of the land!" (Isaiah 5:8); and

WHEREAS, the continuing confiscation of Palestinian land for construction of settlements and the building of a separation wall violates fundamental human rights, subverts the peace process, destroys the hope of both Israelis and Palestinians who are working for and longing for peace, and fosters a sense of desperation that can only lead to further violence; and
 
WHEREAS, continued and often intensified closures, curfews, dehumanizing check points, home demolitions, uprooted trees, bulldozed fields, and confiscation of Palestinian land and water by the government of Israel have devastated economic infrastructure and development in the West Bank and Gaza, have caused a massive deterioration of the living standards of all Palestinians ... and an increasing sense of hopelessness and frustration; and
 
WHEREAS, targeted assassinations, suicide bombings, and attacks against civilians by both Israelis and Palestinians heighten the fear and suffering of all, and have led to many deaths of Palestinian and Israeli children; and
 
WHEREAS, people in the United States, through their taxes, provide several billion dollars in economic and military assistance to the State of Israel each year, which allows for the building of bypass roads and settlements that are illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention;
 
WHEREAS, a number of Israeli and international companies profit from the building and maintaining of Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands in a variety of ways, and many churches and Christians have funds invested in some of these companies; and  
WHEREAS human rights organizations have documented that private foreign donors, including Jewish and Christian individuals and non-profit organizations, have provided financial support for settlements and that some of these donations are tax-deductible; and  
 
WHEREAS, the church continues to work with ecumenical and interfaith bodies to advocate for Palestinian self-determination and an end to Israeli occupation; to affirm Israel's right to exist within secure borders; to affirm the right of return for Palestinian refugees under international law; to call for region-wide disarmament; to urge Israelis and Palestinians to stop human rights violations and attacks on civilians, such as targeted assassinations and suicide bombings; and to urge the U.S. government to initiate an arms embargo on the entire Middle East region;
 
Therefore, be it resolved, that The United Methodist Church opposes continued military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land and water resources, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the continued building of illegal Jewish settlements, and any vision of a "Greater Israel" that includes the occupied territories and the whole of Jerusalem and its surroundings.  
 
In our call for an end to the Israeli occupation we affirm the church's commitment to nonviolent responses to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and acknowledge the need to hear the voices of all those -- Muslim, Christian and Jewish -- harmed by the conflict, including the Palestinian Christians as voiced in the Kairos Palestine document.  

Be it further resolved, that we urge the U.S. government to end all military aid to the region, and second to redistribute the large amount of aid now given to Israel and Egypt; to support economic development efforts of nongovernmental organizations throughout the region, including religious institutions, human rights groups, labor unions, and professional groups within Palestinian communities.
 
The United Methodist Church requests that all governments, especially that of the United States, to work in cooperation with the United Nations to urge the State of Israel to:

1.    cease the confiscation of Palestinian lands and water for any reason;
2.    cease the building of new, or expansion of existing, settlements and/or bypass roads in the occupied territories including East Jerusalem;
3.    lift the closures and curfews on all Palestinian towns by completely withdrawing Israeli military forces to the Green Line (the 1948 ceasefire line between Israel and the West Bank);
4.    dismantle that segment of the Wall of Separation constructed since May 2002 that is not being built on the Green Line but on Palestinian land that is separating Palestinians from their land and farmers from their fields.
        
We also urge the Palestinian Authority and all Palestinian religious leaders to continue to publicly condemn violence against Israeli civilians and to use nonviolent acts of disobedience to resist the occupation and the illegal settlements.
 
We further call on all nations to prohibit:

1. any financial support by individuals or organizations for the construction and maintenance of settlements;  and
2. the import of products made by companies in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.  

We ask all companies that profit from and/or support settlements through their business activities to examine these and stop any business that contributes to serious violations of international law, promotes systemic discrimination or otherwise supports ongoing military occupation.   

The United Methodist Church does not support a boycott of products made in Israel. Our opposition is to products made by Israeli companies operating in occupied Palestinian territories.  

We urge all United Methodists in the U.S. to:

1. advocate with the U.S. administration and Congress to implement the aforementioned steps;
2. urge the U.S. government to examine the role played by donations from tax-exempt charities in support of discriminatory and other illegal aspects of Israeli illegal settlements, and develop recommendations to ensure that tax-exempt funds do not support settlements and other violations of international law.

We urge all United Methodists to:

1. read about the suffering of Israelis and Palestinians and nonviolent ways of ending the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from the perspective of all faith communities including the "Kairos Palestine" document
2. encourage members of each congregation to study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from all perspectives by inviting speakers to church events, reading books, using audio-visual resources in educational forums, and getting information from Web sites. We especially commend the 2010 British Methodist Church call “on the Methodist people to support and engage with [a] boycott of Israeli goods emanating from illegal settlements,” as well as a call for nonviolent actions issued by several Annual Conferences.
3. provide financial support to the Palestinian people through contributions to the General Board of Global Ministries;
4. support, and participate in, the work of international peace and human rights organizations, such as the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine & Israel and Christian PeacemakerTeams, to provide protection for Palestinians and Israelis seeking nonviolently to end the occupation; and
5. reach out to local synagogues, mosques, and Christian faith groups by engaging in interfaith and ecumenical dialogue on nonviolent ways to promote justice and peace in the Holy Land; and
6. That the General Board of Global Ministries, working together with the General Board of Church & Society and interfaith organizations, develop advocacy packets for use in local congregations to promote a just and lasting peace and human rights for all in the region.
    
Adopted 2004
Readopted 2008
Resolution #312, 2004 Book of Resolutions
See Social Principle, ¶165.


Download this resolution »


 
Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah)

In recent years, Jewish communities have developed the custom of remembering the Holocaust (Shoah) on the Jewish calendar at a designated time each year. This observance has become a powerful means of educating people about this historical atrocity and sensitizing them to present and potential violence rooted in racial hatred.

WHEREAS, “In the twentieth century there is particular shame in the failure of most of the church to challenge the policies of governments that were responsible for the unspeakable atrocities of the Holocaust” (“Building New Bridges in Hope,” Book of Resolutions 1996);

WHEREAS, as the same document observes, “[t]he Christian Church has a profound obligation to correct historical and theological teachings that have led to false and pejorative perceptions of Judaism and contributed to persecution and hatred of Jews”; and

WHEREAS, we are currently (May 2000) remembering the 55th anniversary of the end of World War II;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the 2000 General Conference calls The United Methodist Church to contrition and repentance of its complicity in “the long history of persecution of the Jewish people” and asks the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns to give special programmatic emphasis to Holocaust awareness and to prepare resources for use in local congregations, annual conferences, and their Conference Commissions on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns or equivalent structures to enable them to become more aware of the Holocaust and its impact, and

Be it further resolved, as a sign of our contrition and our solidarity with the Jewish community, the General Conference urges the promotion of observance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, each spring in United Methodist local congregations and urges the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, in cooperation with other agencies of The United Methodist Church, in a time of increasing anti-Semitism, to work with our own denominations’ history with regard to this tragedy and find ways to support the work against anti-Semitism in the world today and to prepare resources for local congregations to observe Yom HaShoah.

We continue to pray for God’s grace to speak in Jesus’ name against bigotry, hatred, genocide, or other crimes against humanity whenever we encounter them.

ADOPTED 2000

 
Holy Land Tours

Concern has been raised across the church about special opportunities that are often being missed by United Methodists traveling to Israel/Palestine, often called the Holy Land. Christians indigenous to the area have also sharpened the question by wondering why they are so often ignored by Christian pilgrims to the region. Why, they ask, do travelers tend to honor the inanimate stones that testify to Jesus’ life and ministry while ignoring the “living stones,” the indigenous Christians who represent an unbroken line of discipleship to Jesus in the land that he called home?

Travelers to this land have the opportunity to be ambassadors of unity and concern to the churches and Christians in a troubled land. They also have an opportunity to learn from the spiritual traditions of the churches indigenous to the Middle East. Further, they have a special opportunity to discover firsthand the realities of a region of deep meaning and vital importance to Christians, as well as to Jews and Muslims,

Therefore, The United Methodist Church:

1. strongly affirms the resolution of the 1984 General Conference, offering “encouragement of all leaders of and participants in ‘Holy Land tours’ to contact indigenous Christian leaders in the Middle East, and to hear the concerns of both the Israelis and Palestinians who live there, as well as visit the biblical and historical sites” (“The Arab-Israeli Conflict,” The Book of Resolutions, 1984, page 280);

2. asks the bishops, clergy, members, agencies, and congregations of The United Methodist Church, as they plan visits to the Holy Land, to devote at least 20 percent of the program time to contact with indigenous Christian leaders and to hearing the concerns of Palestinians and Israelis on the current crisis of Palestinian self-determination;

3. recommends that United Methodists planning individual or group tours to Israel/Palestine consult with the United Methodist liaison in Jerusalem and the Middle East Council of Churches Ecumenical Travel Office to seek opportunities to worship with indigenous Christian congregations and to visit United Methodist-supported mission sites;

4. asks the General Board of Global Ministries and the General Board of Church and Society to prepare specific recommendations for United Methodists traveling in the Middle East and other sensitive regions of the world;

5. recommends that United Methodist-sponsored tours use the denomination’s joint seminar program in pre-departure seminars for the travelers;

6. urges that travelers use, as advance study materials, positions adopted by General Conference and by general church agencies relating to the Middle East;

7. extends sincere appreciation to those United Methodists who have facilitated the implementation of the above recommendations in tours they have sponsored or participated in during the first quadrennium following adoption of this resolution;

8. expresses deep concern that many tours sponsored or arranged by United Methodist bishops, pastors, and laity do not schedule opportunity for all participants to enter into partnership with the indigenous Christians for the recommended program time and, therefore, fail to “Walk With the Living Stones” in their strides toward Palestinian self-determination, their rich spiritual heritage, and their faithful contemporary witness;

9. expresses deep concern that evidence continues to accumulate that Christianity is dying in the land of Jesus through economic, social, and political pressures, which have greatly diminished the numbers and percentage of Christians in the Holy Land. United Methodist bishops and other organizers of Holy Land tours have a special responsibility to adhere to these recommendations to strengthen the witness of the remaining Palestinian disciples of the Living Lord;

10. affirms the presence of The United Methodist Church in Jerusalem through our liaison office;

11. encourages tour leaders to consult with the United Methodist liaison office in Jerusalem in order to facilitate adherence to these recommendations;

12. instructs the Joint Panel on International Affairs of our general agencies to monitor and report to the General Conference regarding the implementation of this resolution;

13. underscores the significance of Bethlehem 2000, which celebrated two millennia of Christianity in the land of Jesus;

14. urges close cooperation with the Middle East Council of Churches and other indigenous Christian groups to facilitate informed, alternative travel opportunities to the region; and

15. commends the General Board of Global Ministries for initiating visits to the Bible lands that explore issues of justice and peace among all participants in the region, with special emphasis upon the concerns of our Palestinian Christian colleagues.

ADOPTED 1992
AMENDED AND READOPTED 1996
AMENDED AND READOPTED 2000

 
United Nations Resolutions on the Israel-Palestine Conflict

WHEREAS, negotiations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority still have not achieved a just and lasting peace for the Palestinian people; and

WHEREAS, the United Nations Security Council has passed numerous resolutions, including Resolutions 242 and 338, that outline a framework for a just and lasting peace; and

WHEREAS, the UMC recognizes and affirms the role of the United Nations in the resolution of this conflict and has already affirmed that the “principles embodied in United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 provide an agreed upon formula to achieve security and peace for all states in the area” (see “The Current Arab-Israeli Crisis”),

Therefore, be it resolved, that The United Methodist Church calls upon the United States, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to accept the authority of Security Council resolutions and abide by Resolutions 242 and 338, as well as all other relevant Security Council resolutions, that provide a framework for bringing this conflict to a just and permanent end.

ADOPTED 2000

>>>  Download a pdf file of the four UMC General Conference Resolutions above (48K), click here >





 
General Conference 2008


The 2008 General Conference affirmed its stance against Israel’s expansion beyond its 1967 borders and against the settlements established on occupied Palestinian land. It overwhelmingly rejected a proposal entitled “Oppose Divestment from Israel.” It rejected a call for United Methodists to withdraw from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and to forbid agency staff from participating on its board. It rejected a motion to forbid comparisons of Israel with apartheid South Africa. It expanded a call to accept all UN Security Council resolutions related to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, by removing the limiting words Security Council and affirming all UN resolutions on the conflict. These would include resolutions requiring the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and requiring Israel to withdraw from all Palestinian lands occupied since 1967.

It also voted against divestment measures, all of which were rejected by the Committee on Finance and Administration. The two pro-divestment measures which did make it to the floor…one on the Middle East and one on Sudan… were bundled with many unrelated bills reported out by committees, and the conference accepted the committee recommendations. The issue of divestment from companies that sustain Israel’s occupation was never debated or discussed by the full plenary session of the conference.

The resolution to Oppose Divestment from Israel was referred to the Committee on Church and Society, which rejected it. There were no proposals to divest from Israel, but the resolutions to divest from companies that sustain Israel’s occupation went to the Committee on Financial Administration, where a subcommittee of 8 people rejected them. The full committee concurred. This committee also received Sudan divestment proposals, rejecting one and approving another by a vote of 33-20. This was then affirmed by the General Conference.

Below are some specific measures by title, sponsor and disposition.

See others that did not pass at GC 2008 at:
http://www.unitedmethodistdivestment.com/GenConferenceActions.html


Middle East Conflict (GC 2008)
This resolution was referred to the Committee on Church and Society, which approved it by a vote of 56-1. This recommendation to approve was affirmed by the full Conference in a vote of 839-44.

WHEREAS The United Methodist Church has affirmed its commitment to relationship and dialogue with people of other religious traditions (“Called to be Neighbors and Witnesses—Guidelines for Interreligious Relationships” 2004 Book of Resolutions, page 252ff), and

WHEREAS The United Methodist Church has affirmed its commitment to relationship and dialogue with Jewish people (“Building New Bridges in Hope” 2004 Book of Resolutions, page 243ff), and

WHEREAS The United Methodist Church has affirmed its commitment to relationship and dialogue with Muslims (“Our Muslim Neighbors” 2004 Book of Resolutions, page 797ff), and

WHEREAS The United Methodist Church has affirmed its support for the boundaries of the State of Israel internationally recognized prior to the 1967 war in the Middle East (“United Nations Resolutions on the Israel-Palestine Conflict” 2004 Book of Resolutions, page 811ff), and

WHEREAS The United Methodist Church has strongly stated its opposition to Israeli settlements in occupied territories (“Opposition to Israeli Settlements in Palestinian Land” 2004 Book of Resolutions, page 787ff)

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED That The United Methodist Church continues to advocate for a peaceful settlement of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians through negotiation and diplomacy rather than through methods of violence and coercion.

Submitted by:

    General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (General Agency)
    Larry D. Pickens
    Anchorage, AK, USA



Israel-Palestine Conflict (GC 2008)
This resolution affirmed an earlier resolution adopted by the General Conference in 2000, and expanded its support of relevant Security Council resolutions to include all UN resolutions that provide a framework for bringing this conflict to a just and permanent end. It affirmed International Court of Justice rulings related to Israel and Palestine, including the Court’s ruling that Israel’s wall annexing Palestinian land to Israel is illegal.
It was adopted by a vote of 37-19 in Committee. It was accepted by the full conference 528-273.


Be it further resolved, that The United Methodist Church call upon the United States, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to accept the authority of Security Council resolutions, to refrain from vetoing resolutions, and abide by Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, as well as all other relevant Security Council UN resolutions and International Court of Justice rulings, that provide a framework for bringing this conflict to a just and permanent end.

Submitted by:
    General Board of Global Ministries (General Agency)
    R. Randy Day
    New York, NY, USA



 
Divestment (GC 2008)
Referred to the Committee on Financial Administration. Rejected 50-0 after a subcommittee of 8 people recommended rejection. Not assigned to a consent calendar. Not considered by the full conference.

We call upon the United Methodist General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits and the General Council on Finance and Administration to review and identify companies that profit from sales of products or services that cause harm to Palestinians and Israelis and begin phased selective divestment from these companies.

Submitted by:

    North Central New York Annual Conference (Annual Conference)
    Dale E. Austin, NY, USA

    California-Nevada Annual Conference (Annual Conference)
    Roger Morimoto
    West Sacramento, CA, USA

    Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference (Annual Conference)
    Albert L. Clipp
    Martinsburg, WV, USA

    Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference (Annual Conference)
    Laura Jaquith Bartlett
    Lebanon, OR, USA

    California-Pacific Annual Conference (Annual Conference)
    Bob L. Isip
    Torrance, CA, USA


Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA)
www.mfsaweb.org
Divestment resolution at General Conference 2008

MFSA is not an official organization of the United Methodist Church; it is funded entirely by individual donations. It's members and supporters are clergy and laity of the church, and those include many UM leaders across the country and around the world.  MFSA was at the forefront of the struggle for the UMC Board of Pensions to divest from South Africa.

It was a group from MFSA - the Middle East Network of United Methodists - who submitted the resolution that passed at General Conference in 2004 (see top of this page). Today MFSA is working on several advocacy paths to a just peace for Israel and Palestine, and they submitted the following resolution to the UMC General Conference 2008.


This resolution was not recommended by the committee it was assigned to at GC 2008 and therefore was not considered by the full body of General Conference delegates.  As with several other divestment-related resolutions that were submitted to General Conference 2008, this one was assigned to the Finance Committee, rather than the committee that deals with justice and peace issues, Church & Society, which may have been a factor in the results.


Promoting Peace Through Ethical Investment
Referred to the Committee on Financial Administration. Rejected 50-0. Not assigned to a consent calendar.

The 2008 General Conference calls upon the UMC General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, and all general boards, administrative agencies and institutions, including hospitals, homes, educational institutions, annual conferences, foundations, and local churches to undertake the following process of phased, selective divestment from companies that support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and other violations of human rights in Palestine/Israel:

1) review their investment portfolios and within six months identify a list of
companies that are supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories or that violate the human rights of Palestinians or Israelis, and to publish, maintain and distribute the list and constantly re-evaluate the relationship of companies to the occupation and human rights violations in the region, guided by Resolution #213, “Investment Ethics” (2004 United Methodist Book of Resolutions, p. 554-559),

2) before placing a company on the list, the Board of Pensions in cooperation with other general agencies should write to that company, explain our concerns as United Methodists, and request a change in the company’s relationship to the Israeli occupation.

3) If no change in policy is reported within 60 days as being taken or contemplated, the company’s name should be placed immediately on the divestment list along with explanatory details and shared with the whole church;

4) Once a company is placed on the list, no further stock shall be purchased until that company ends its activities that support the occupation; United Methodist general agencies and institutions should use currently held stock for shareholder actions and other forms of socially responsible action in keeping with the Investment Ethics policy, #213 in the 2004 Book of Resolutions. If a company continues to refuse to change its activities then after two years, all remaining stock shall be divested until such time as the company ends its support of Israel’s occupation;

5) That the General Boards of Pensions & Health Benefits, Global Ministries, and Church & Society, work in cooperation with the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical and human rights partners to coordinate nonviolent, moral efforts to end all corporate support for occupation and human rights violations in Palestine/Israel;

The United Methodist Church at the same time supports positive investments that promote capacity building in partnership with poor and marginalized communities in Palestine/Israel, that fulfill the Call to Action in 2004 Resolution #206 “Economic Justice for a New Millennium” (#206, p. 538),

We ask every United Methodist to prayerfully consider taking the same action with the personal and pension assets under their control, and request that other investment manages such as mutual fund companies, pension plans, and bank trustees to the same.

We affirm our longstanding support of Christian presence in the Holy Land through forms of economic support and investment.

Submitted by:
    Methodist Federation for Social Action
    Kathryn J. Johnson
    Washington, DC, USA



 
Council of Bishops of
the United Methodist Church


The following resolution was adopted by the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church at their May 2001 meeting.

MIDDLE EAST
May 2001

WHEREAS the General Conference of the United Methodist Church has addressed the issues in the Middle East and Israel regarding the Palestinian people in resolutions titled: "The Building of Settlements in the Occupied Territories," "Economic Support for Palestinians," "The Middle East and North Africa," "Justice for the Rev. Alex Awad," "Holy Land Tours," and "Our Muslim Neighbors,"

WHEREAS the Social Principles states in Paragraph 164 on Basic Freedoms and Human Rights: "We hold governments responsible for the protection of the rights of the people to free and fair elections and to the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, communications media, and petition for redress of grievances without fear of reprisal; to the right to privacy; and to the guarantee of the rights to adequate food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care. The form and the leaders of all governments should be determined by exercise of the right to vote guaranteed to all adult citizens. We also strongly reject domestic surveillance and intimidation of political opponents by governments in power. ... The use of detention and imprisonment for the harassment and elimination of political opponents or other dissidents ... or torture of persons by governments for any purpose violates Christian teaching and must be condemned and/or opposed by Christians and churches wherever and whenever it occurs."

WHEREAS basic freedoms and human rights of Palestinian people continue to be violated,

WHEREAS the building of new and expansion of existing settlements continues in Palestine,

WHEREAS the United States government has and continues to provide funding for the Israeli government and that funding supports the establishment of settlements in Occupied Territories (Palestine), the building of roadways through the Occupied Territories which divide the Palestinian lands,

WHEREAS the Palestinian and Israeli forces continue violent acts of terrorism and destruction, often inflicted upon innocent men, women and children,

WE THEREFORE CALL UPON the United States government, through Congress, to use all measures possible, including the cutting off of all funding to the Israeli government, to insure that the following conditions are met:
•    All human rights violations cease.
•    Building of roads for the purpose of dividing the Palestinian lands through the West Bank and Gaza cease.
•    No more Jewish settlements are built in occupied territories.
•    All home demolitions cease.

FURTHERMORE, WE CALL UPON the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to bring an end to all hostilities,

FURTHERMORE, WE CALL UPON all United Methodists to become educated on the issues, pray for all people of the region, and provide financial support to the Palestinian people through contributions to the General Board of Global Ministries.

AND FURTHERMORE, WE CALL UPON all United Methodist communities and churches to invite religious leaders (Jewish, Christians, and Muslim) into conversations in order to foster deeper understanding of the issues.
 
_____________________________


The following statement was adopted by the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church at their May 2002 meeting.


Precious Stones
Statement on the Middle East Crisis
May, 2002

"O Jerusalem, you suffering, helpless city, with no one to comfort you, I will rebuild your foundations with precious stones." Isaiah 54:11 (Today's English Version)
The crisis in Israel and Palestine has reached a level requiring urgent action. Violence, whether caused by military action or suicide bombers, has escalated to a shocking degree, and is taking the lives of many innocent people and threatens to engulf the region in a wider war. We express our condolences to the families and friends of victims of the ongoing violence and we pray ceaselessly for a prompt and just resolution of the crisis. The precious stones of the Holy Land speak to us and we hear their cry!

Our recent delegation to Palestine and Israel heard the voices of terrified people, the precious living stones, both Israelis and Palestinians who seek to go about their daily lives in peace within safe and secure borders. We declare our deep respect, affection, and love for both Israelis and Palestinians. We affirm and admire the many people and organizations on all sides working for peace and nonviolent conflict resolution and reconciliation in the most difficult of circumstances.

Our delegation met with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders and senior Israeli government and Palestinian Authority officials. Palestinians and Israelis are caught in a cycle of revenge and violence that must be broken; repeatedly our delegation heard requests from both sides for outside intervention to break the deadlock.

We note with alarm that the Church of the Nativity remains under siege in Bethlehem and we pray fervently for a peaceful resolution at this holy site, so important to Christians throughout the world.

We are concerned for the present plight and future viable presence of Christians in the Holy Land. Christian leaders asked us not to forget and abandon them in this hour of need and to speak and act on their behalf as sisters and brothers in Christ. We hereby pledge ourselves to do so. We also speak in support of the ministry of our United Methodist missionaries in the Holy Land, Sandra Olweine, Alex and Brenda Awad, Bob May, and Janet Lahr Lewis.

Therefore, we, the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church:

--call for an immediate cease-fire in Israel and Palestine. The Council offers our good offices and tangible support to bring this violence to an end;

--deplore the disproportionate use of force on the part of the Israeli government. When tanks and helicopters are used to attack civilian neighborhoods, when homes are destroyed, when land is confiscated and civilians are harassed, injured and killed, the cause of peace is harmed;

--ask for an immediate end to suicide bombing and call on President Yasser Arafat to do all that he can to end these criminal and inhuman acts, which injure and kill Israeli citizens and create fear throughout Israel;

--request Israel immediately withdraw from all invaded and occupied Palestinian territory, cease its military incursions, stop the building and expansion of settlements, address the right of return for Palestinian refugees, halt its destruction of the infrastructure of Palestinian civil society, end restrictions on movement and provision of humanitarian aid relief into the Palestinian territories;

--request the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations to work together for peace in Israel and Palestine;

--call on the United States to give efforts to seek peace in the Middle East the highest priority and to act in a fair and impartial manner;

--commend Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the recent Arab Summit for putting forward a plan for peace with Israel;

--call for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestine state as soon as possible and for the release of promised U.S. aid to that state;

--reaffirm the right of the peoples of Palestine and Israel to live within independent nations which have safe and secure borders.
Furthermore, the Council of Bishops:

--asks everyone to pray constantly for peace in the Middle East.

--recommends that annual conferences and general agencies send delegations to the Middle East in support of our missionaries and to express our solidarity with our Christian sisters and brothers in the Holy Land and with all peace loving peoples in the Middle East.

--requests local churches establish a relationship with mosques and synagogues for the purpose of dialogue and understanding.

--asks United Methodists in all lands to contact their national leaders and press them to work for peace in the Middle East.

--encourages local churches to celebrate Peace with Justice Sunday on May 26 by lighting two candles, one for Palestine and one for Israel.
All of this to the end that the Holy Land becomes a place where:
"Love and faithfulness meet together, where righteousness and peace kiss each other." (Psalm 85:10)



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