The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns has joined a broad spectrum of faith-based groups concerned with the situation in Israel and Palestine. These groups (*see below) have agreed to ask their constituencies to contact their Congressional offices on the third Thursday of each month by visit, phone call, letter, or email. It is hoped that such a diversity and concentration of many voices with unified timing may bring our Congressional offices to take more notice of the many issues of justice and peace involved in the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A particular theme and issue will be the focus of each third Thursday action alert.
This August, tell your member in person that peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians need to be founded on justice.
Background: In recent days there has been a lot of attention on the launch of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. While many have lauded this development, in order for there to be a just and sustainable resolution of the conflict, core concerns will need to be addressed. Without these foundations of justice, negotiations can be used as a pretense for ignoring ongoing injustices.
Reports indicate, for example, that Israel is set to approve as many as several thousand housing units over the coming months in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In late June the Israeli Knesset (parliament) began consideration of the Prawer Plan, which would expel more than 30,000 Palestinian Bedouins from the Negev desert region and confiscate much of their land.
These kinds of actions work directly against a vision of sustainable and just peace. Rather than seeing this as inevitable, the U.S. government would do well to heed the action taken by the European Union which announced in mid-July that it would effectively sanction Israeli entities in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. If the U.S. were to follow suit, it would send a clear signal that the settlements are illegal and are not to be used as a negotiating tactic against the Palestinians.
A just resolution of the conflict will require:
- A commitment to respect human rights
- An end to the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem
- A shared Jerusalem
- An end to discriminatory confiscation and distribution of land and water resources and the dismantling of the illegal separation wall, and
- Justice and security for Palestinian refugees.
Faith reflection: The prophet Jeremiah decried those who say “‘peace, peace, when there is no peace” (6:14). The biblical vision of peace rests on the solid foundation of justice and right relationships. Indeed, Jeremiah urges the people to seek “the good way”: “Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (6:16).
Action: The August recess (August 5 through September 6) is a great time to visit local offices of your representative and senators. They need to hear from you and other constituents that you strongly support peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but that this peace must be based on a foundation of justice.
*Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Methodist Church, National Council of Churches USA, American Friends Service Committee, Mennonite Central Committee US, Orthodox Peace Fellowship, Friends Committee on National Legislation, American Baptist Churches, USA, United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM)