Major written statements and reports published
by churches, governments, organizations
and the United Nations. 
World Council of Churches - p2


WCC Central Committee Encourages  

Consideration of Economic Measures 

for Peace in Israel/Palestine

February 21, 2005

The World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee reminded the Council's member churches that "with investment funds, they have an opportunity to use those funds responsibly in support of peaceful solutions" to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The WCC governing body encouraged the Council's member churches "to give serious consideration to economic measures that are equitable, transparent and non-violent" as a new way to work for peace, by looking at ways to not participate economically in illegal activities related to the Israeli occupation. In that sense, the committee affirmed "economic pressure, appropriately and openly applied," as a "means of action".

As an example, the WCC governing body mentions the "process of phased, selective divestment from multinational corporations involved in the occupation" now being implemented by the Presbyterian Church (USA). "This action is commendable in both method and manner, [and] uses criteria rooted in faith."

The recommendation, approved one day before the end of the 15-22 February meeting of the Council's governing body in Geneva, is contained in a minute addressed to WCC member churches. In it, the committee also notes that "in the conflict in Israel and Palestine there is a renewal of hope, although there is not yet a reduction of the threats that separate the parties".

The document points out that "illegal activities in occupied territory continue as if a viable peace for both peoples is not a possibility", and that multinational corporations have been involved in a number of "violations of international law" within that territory.

The committee's 150 members affirm: "The concern here is to abide by law as the foundation for a just peace." "We are not blind to facts and must not be complicit in them even unwittingly."

While highlighting the "growing witness and impact of church engagement that includes both Israelis and Palestinians", including initiatives like the WCC-led Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), the committee also "urges the establishment of more and wider avenues of engagement between Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities pursuing peace".

As a frame for its recommendation, the WCC governing body recalls both its 1992 statement that "criticism of the policies of the Israeli government is not in itself anti-Jewish", and its 1969 call for "effective international guarantees for the political independence and territorial integrity of all nations in the area, including Israel". It also mentions its 2004 recognition of Israel's "serious and legitimate security concerns".


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The Bern Perspective

World Council of Churches

Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches

Reformed Churches Bern-Jura-Solothurn

Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF)


"Promised Land"

Church Center Bürenpark, Bern, Switzerland

September 10-14, 2008

The Amman Call, issued in June 2007, as the result of the World Council of Churches international peace conference in Amman, Jordan, put forth the urgent plea from Palestinian Christians to their brothers and sisters in Christ: "Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action." Through the Call, the churches were challenged to not remain silent in the face of suffering.

This international and broadly ecumenical conference within the framework of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum, held in Bern, Switzerland, co-hosted by the WCC with the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches and the Reformed Churches Bern-Jura-Solothurn, was convened to help different parts of the body of Christ join together in the work of addressing biblical and theological issues in Christian discourse about the conflict in Palestine-Israel. The theme of the conference - The Promised Land - provided both grounds for exploring scripture and a material foundation for engaging with the contemporary conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

The 85 participants in the conference discerned the need to spend time and energy attending to the diversity of perspectives within the Christian family. The early planning process determined that a significant proportion of participants would be invited from Palestine-Israel and the Middle East. One aspect of this was the opportunity to hear Palestinian Christians speak of their experience as well as their theological understandings of land and the promises of God.

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After decades of dispossession, discrimination, illegal occupation, violence and bloodshed in Palestine-Israel, Christians are challenged to continue to study, critique and re-vision theologies of land in order to promote life-affirming Christian visions and responses to the conflict. This process explores both the contexts in which our theologies were created and their consequences for millions of human lives.

This conference gave preferential option to the voices of Palestinian and Middle Eastern Christian theologians. At several points, participants were made painfully aware that because Christians worldwide have differing vocations, situations, perspectives, interests and solidarities, they also hold to different views of land. Because of our shared hope in the risen Lord, we are confident that these differences do not preclude mutual transformation.

During the conference Christian scholars from diverse perspectives presented papers for discussion on a variety of topics, including land and God's promises, the Abraham paradigm, the Church and Israel, and the "people of God." Together we have witnessed the transformative potential of the encounter among Christians holding vastly different views.

A central issue for the conference was how the Bible is read. We are called to acknowledge the context of our interpretations and to recognize distinctions between biblical history and biblical story as well as distinctions between the Israel of the Bible and the modern State of Israel. In these distinctions, we are challenged to comprehend the philosophical underpinnings of our interpretations and their ethical implications. The contemporary conflict in Palestine-Israel resounds with biblical metaphors. However, there was significant consensus in the conference that the Bible must not be utilized to justify oppression or supply simplistic commentary on contemporary events, thus sacralizing the conflict and ignoring its socio-political, economic and historical dimensions. We are called not only to expose manipulations of Scripture that ignore context and complexity, but to offer readings of the text that promote the values of God's kingdom: justice, peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

Throughout the conference, we were made aware of the significant contribution of European and North American theologies for Jewish-Christian healing, and their opening of new horizons for Christian theology. It is our hope that these theologies would be enriched by ongoing dialogue with the realities of the situation in Palestine-Israel and dialogue with Muslims worldwide. Christians from within the context of Palestine-Israel, who also have their own relationship with Jews, must be welcomed as companions in theological reflection on these matters as we discern together, in a spirit of mutual enrichment, the mission to which we are called.

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As with many ambitious conferences, we sought to accomplish too much in too short a time. There was more information than transformation.

Let us continue, then, to build trusting relationships that will allow for transformation which can come about only through continued dialogue and constructive confrontation in the spirit of Christian unity.

Let us continue in developing a theological discourse about land, life on the land and living together in the land that is sensitive, promotes respect among ourselves and with others within both intra-Christian and inter-religious contexts, particularly in dialogue with Jews and Muslims, and which avoids any kind of teaching of contempt. One important focus of this development will be theological reflection on international law and human rights.

Let us affirm that a new discourse on these issues develops as a new generation emerges. Therefore, our churches should commit themselves to ecumenical and inter-religious formation.

Let us continue to critically and creatively examine notions of the "Promised Land", rediscovering in the Bible and in our traditions life-giving metaphors for promoting justice, peace, reconciliation and forgiveness for the fullness of the earth and all its inhabitants.

Let us open this dialogue to include approaches to reading the Bible and doing theology that have emerged from other contexts of conflict, landlessness, dispossession, oppression and exclusion so that we might more rigorously analyze the conflict, interrogate ideologies like antisemitism and Christian Zionism, and contribute toward peace making and peace building in Palestine-Israel.

Bern, Switzerland, 13 September 2008


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The Amman Call

issued at WCC International Peace Conference 

"Churches Together for Peace and Justice in the Middle East"

Amman, Jordan, 18-20 June 2007 

Amman imperatives: 

1. Almost sixty years have passed since the Christian churches first spoke with one voice about Arab-Israeli peace. For the last forty years the Christian churches have called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In the very place where Jesus Christ walked upon the earth, walls now separate families and the children of God - Christian, Muslim and Jew -- are imprisoned in a deepening cycle of violence, humiliation and despair. The Palestinian Christians from Gaza to Jerusalem and to Nazareth, have called out to their brothers and sisters in Christ with this urgent plea: "Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action." 

2. We welcome the timely and prophetic statement of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. We affirm that "the Churches are part of the conflict, because the Churches cannot remain silent while there is still suffering. The role of the Churches is to heal and to bring all sides to reconciliation." Our belief in God reminds us "that all God's children of all religions and political parties are to be respected." We assure the Churches of Palestine and Israel of our prayers, collaboration and resources.  

3. Thus, in Amman, Jordan 18-20 June 2007, days that have witnessed a deepening of the crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories,and also includes the United Nations World Refugee Day, we representatives of Christian churches and church-related organizations from every corner of the earth, affirm the decision of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and launch the "Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum" as an instrument to "catalyze and co-ordinate new and existing church advocacy for peace, aimed at ending the illegal occupation in accordance with UN resolutions, and demonstrate its commitment to inter-religious action for peace and justice that serves all the peoples of the region." 

4. This action has been taken in response to three fundamental imperatives that call us to action: 

• The ethical and theological imperative for a Just Peace

• The ecumenical imperative for unity in action

• The Gospel imperative for costly solidarity 

5. The premises of this action are the following: 

5.1. That UN resolutions are the basis for peace and the Geneva conventions are applicable to the rights and responsibilities of the affected people. 

5.2. That Palestinians have the right of self-determination and the right of return. 

5.3. That a two-state solution must be viable politically, geographically economically and socially. 

5.4 That Jerusalem must be an open, accessible, inclusive and shared city for the two peoples and three religions. 

5.5 That both Palestine and Israel have legitimate security needs.  

5.6. That the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal, and constitute an obstacle to peace. 

5.7. That the "Separation Barrier" constructed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories is a grave breach of international law and must be removed from the occupied territory. 

5.8. That there is no military solution for this conflict. Violence in all its forms cannot be justified whether perpetrated by Israelis or Palestinians. 

5.9. That comprehensive regional peace is indivisible from a just peace in Israel and Palestine.  

5.10. That the life and witness of local churches is at the center of worldwide church advocacy for a just peace.  

6. We understand the mandate of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum to be a space where we will develop comprehensive strategic approaches to the two processes of peace making and peace building. An inclusive core group convened urgently by the WCC should be mandated to facilitate this and also ensure improved coordination between all actors. The core group will be informed by the reports of the working groups of the Amman conference, and that its composition and mechanism be designed and announced by the WCC. 

7. Peace building will include the following: 

7.1. Furthering theological and biblical perspectives and Christian education resources around those issues central to the conflict. 

7.2. Developing strategies that will support the processes of justice and reconciliation, including inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. 

7.3. Strengthening the churches' responses to the occupation. 

7.4. Recognizing, encouraging and cooperating with all efforts of Israeli and Palestinian civil society that are in accord with the vision and goals of the PIEF. 

8. Peace making will include the following: 

8.1. Defining and promoting measures, including economic ones, that could help end the occupation and enhance sustainable growth and development. 

8.2. Strengthening existing efforts and identifying new models of church solidarity in action. Supporting local churches and church related organizations not only to survive and continue their powerful ministries, including educational, health, cultural and social services, but also to thrive and be witnesses of hope. 

8.3. Developing a long-term advocacy strategy in order to mobilize all of our constituencies and influence change. 

Amman challenges: 

9. We have heard the voices of the Christian churches of Palestine and Israel challenging and saying to us: 

9.1. Act with us to liberate all peoples of this land from the logic of hatred, mutual rejection and death, so that they see in the other the face and dignity of God.  

9.2. Pray with us in our efforts to resist evil in all of its guises.  

9.3. Raise your voices along with ours as we speak "truth to power" and name with courage the injustices we see and experience. The illegal occupation has stolen two generations of lives in this tortured place, and threatens the next with hopelessness and rage. 

9.4. Risk the curses and abuse that will be aimed at you and stand in solidarity with us and with our Palestinian brothers and sisters of all faiths as we defiantly reject the possibility that occupation will continue. 

9.5. Help us to tear down walls and build and rebuild bridges among all peoples in the region. Extremism on all sides produces chaos. It threatens to divide us and to destroy bridges among peoples that would lead to reconciliation and peace. 

9.6. Add your hope to ours in the knowledge that evil and despair have been overcome through the death of our Lord on the Cross and through His Resurrection. 

9.7. Insist with us that all dispossessed peoples, all refugees, have the right to return. 

9.8. Partner with us as we seek peace and pursue it. Peace is possible. Christians and Muslims and Jews have, can and will understand one another and live together as neighbors.  

10. And we representatives of Christian churches and church-related organizations from every corner of the earth, we respond:  

11. Yes, we will. Together we will act and pray and speak and work and risk reputations and lives to build with you bridges for an enduring peace among the peoples of this tortured and beautiful place -Palestine and Israel- to end these decades of injustice, humiliation and insecurity, to end the decades of living as refugees and under occupation. We will work with you to seek peace and pursue it. We have allowed too much time to pass. Time has not served the cause of peace but has served the cause of extremism. This is our urgent cause that cannot wait. 


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