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WCC calls on European Union to support Human Rights Commission resolution on violation of human rights in Palestine
Cf. WCC press update UP 01-06 of 28 March 2001
Amidst the intensified attacks in the Middle East over the weekend, the World Council of Churches is continuing to press for the protection of human rights in the region.
"We are gravely concerned with the deepening humanitarian crisis and escalation of violence against Palestinian civilians by Israeli military and settlers," says Salpy Eskidjian, member of the International Relations team of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in a call to church partners in Europe to contact their governments to support a draft resolution on the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories including Palestine.
The resolution relates to Item 8 on the agenda of the current 57th session of the UN High Commission on Human Rights: "Question of the Violation of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine". The Commission is expected to vote on the resolution tomorrow (18 April).
The WCC has been actively engaged in the discussions on this issue at the Commission. A 12 April WCC advocacy alert reported that "Since the onset of the latest crisis from September 2000, our churches in Jerusalem have called for effective and immediate action to be taken, in particular by the European Union, for the protection of Palestinians from Israeli military and settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and within Israel."
In an oral intervention to the Commission on 28 March 2001, the WCC reiterated that "only after occupation and the accompanying violations of collective human rights end can the Middle East move towards a real peace based on the rule of law and both Israelis and Palestinians be able to walk together along the path of peace, justice and reconciliation".
In the same intervention, the WCC also endorsed the "recommendations of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inquiry Commission as expressed in their submitted statements", including "the establishment of an adequate and effective international presence to ensure full protection of the human rights of the Palestinian people and the need for a negotiated, comprehensive, just and durable peace".
Eskidjian welcomed the news that the EU countries had finally agreed to negotiate on the draft resolution on Item 8, but expressed deep concern that in spite of the governments' "full awareness of the violations that have been taking place in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel and of the dangers of the deteriorating situation", indications are that "the best" EU governments may do is abstain from voting on the resolution. She calls on church partners to "ask them to urgently reconsider their position in the Commission, for the sake of peace and protection of the Palestinian and Jewish people of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories".
European countries that vote in the Commission are: Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, UK.
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.