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WCC encourages objective investigation of Israeli practices
Written submission by the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, a non-governmental organization in General Consultative Status with ECOSOC
Justice delayed, justice denied. The resolutions and reports relating to the rights and duties of Israelis and Palestinians adopted by or submitted to the General Assembly, the Security Council and this body since the Partition of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 fill volumes. Israel has most often either ignored or openly violated those related to its practices, thus delaying and often denying justice to the Palestinian people, both in the Occupied Territories and within Israel.
In the post-Oslo period Israel has continued and even accelerated its unilateral practices of changing "facts on the ground." These have included:
In a letter of 10 October to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Dr. Konrad Raiser, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) offered support and prayers for the success of the mission he has undertaken to the region. Dr. Raiser said there:
Both sides have suffered from this renewed violent confrontation. But once again it is the Palestinian people, especially Palestinian youth, who pay by far the greater price in God-given life as a result of the disproportionate use of armed force by Israel.Sharing the land. Most Israelis and Palestinians fervently desire peace, but many also despair at the lack of progress towards it. Jerusalem - home to Arabs and Jews, and considered holy by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike - has been regarded as the most complicated and difficult issue and has repeatedly been left to the end of the negotiation process. Believing that a resolution of this question could open the way to agreements on equitable sharing of the land and resources in Palestine, the last WCC Assembly (Harare, 1998) called upon the parties not to postpone further but to include final status negotiations on Jerusalem as an integral part of negotiations on a general settlement of the wider Middle East conflict. In fact an approach along these lines was taken during the most recent talks in Camp David. For the first time, both sides tabled constructive proposals for shared sovereignty in Jerusalem. Recent events have cut short this hopeful process. Once again the exercise of peoples' rights to peace and sovereign development has fallen victim to the enemies of peace.
Sharing the peace. It was not surprising that these confrontations began in Jerusalem, the nerve center of the conflict. In a resolution adopted on 29 September the WCC Executive Committee nevertheless shared the conviction expressed by Their Beatitudes the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches and Christian Communities in Jerusalem in their statement of 26 September 2000 that a successful conclusion of final status negotiations on Jerusalem would contribute greatly to "true peace with true justice and security for the 'two peoples and three religions' of this land - Palestinians and Israelis, Jews, Christians and Muslims alike." The WCC is firmly convinced that God intended the Holy City to be a source of peace, stability and coexistence rather than of the division and conflict that destroy human dignity and hope. We hope that the present special session of the Commission on Human Rights will draw on the spiritual resources God offers through Jerusalem and contribute constructively to this end.
Sharing the truth. Few international conflicts have been so marked by the dominant power's defiance of its obligations under the Charter to abide by decisions of the Security Council and its treaty obligations such as those of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Here as elsewhere self-asserted claims to impunity pose barriers to peace and reconciliation between nations and peoples. Thus the WCC welcomed the important decision of the Security Council in res. 1322 (2000) that stressed "the importance of establishing a mechanism for a speedy and objective inquiry into the tragic events of the last few days with the aim of preventing their repetition". Such an investigation could provide an essential beginning to revealing, sharing and mutual acceptance of the truth about past systematic violations of peoples' rights. Without such a process there can be little hope for justice, peace or reconciliation between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Christians and Muslims within and beyond Israel's legitimate borders.
A three-member Palestinian ecumenical delegation is attending the Special Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The delegation is hosted by the Commission of Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Delegation members include:
Father George Tsetsis, member of the WCC Central and Executive Committees, will accompany the delegation along with WCC International Relations staff.
Three other people are unable to join the delegation in Geneva due to the military closure of Palestinian territories:
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.