Negotiating a just peace under the rule of law is the strongest option for ensuring the well-being and security of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Negotiating a just peace under the rule of law is the strongest option for ensuring the well-being and security of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. This is the core of Pax Christi International’s policy towards the conflict. The policies of Pax Christi International should go together with some specific actions.
“Enough is enough. No more words without deeds. It is time for action.” (Amman Call WCC, 21 June 2007).
Pax Christi International wants to bring a more effective contribution toward peace in Israel and Palestine through the implementation of some specific awareness actions developed in the field as well as in terms of advocacy on the national, regional and international level. All member organisations active worldwide and the partners in the region are invited to develop some of these suggested actions:
1. Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) supports Palestinians and Israelis working for peace by monitoring and reporting violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, offering protection by accompanying local communities in daily activities, and by advocating with churches for a peaceful end to the Occupation. The programme, which began in 2002, is coordinated by the World Council of Churches (WCC). More on EAPPI www.eappi.org
Pax Christi International is a co-founding NGO of this programme. Different member organisations of Pax Christi International have already been sending some of their members. The EAPPI is doing four things: protection, monitoring, solidarity and advocacy. The EAPPI programme has been active in six places, mainly in West Bank and Gaza, but also in Israel. So far, participants came from 15 different countries, mostly Europe, North America, Australia and South Africa. It is strongly suggested that next to Protestants, more Catholics and Orthodox should participate in EAPPI. It is also suggested to make an effort to attract also participants from the South, for instance Africa and Asia. The witness and advocacy work at home is an essential part of the EAPPI.
2. International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel
The International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel (ICAPPI) is an annual advocacy initiative convened by the WCC. Pax Christi International is an active member within ICAPPI. Many member organisations of Pax Christi International developed non-violent actions, give public witness to their hope for peace with justice, and issued statements and press releases, mostly during the week of 3 – 9 June 2007. The issue of the Week was on “End 40 Years of Illegal Occupation. Negotiate a just peace now!”
The goal of the Week is to raise awareness in churches and civil society and to impress upon governments the need for new efforts to end the conflict and negotiate a settlement. Read the overview at http://www.oikoumene.org/en/events-sections/icappi-2007.html.
In 2008, the Week of Action will take place in May and will coincide with 60 years of Israel and 60 years of Naqba (and the Palestinian refugee problem).
3. Peace Pilgrimages to Holy Land
The Holy Land is considered a sacred place by Jews, Christians and Muslims, as well as by other religious groups such as the Druze and Bahà’i. Pax Christi International promotes peace pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Depending on the composition of the group, the pilgrimage could be called “ecumenical peace pilgrimage” or “contact pilgrimage.”
A first Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage took place in Israel & Palestine, April 2002. Christian churches of Jerusalem have combined with Israel and Palestinian peace and human rights groups to invite participants in an expression of solidarity for (1) Justice for the Palestinian people in their own State, free of occupation; (2) Security for the people of Israel without threats and fear; (3) Respect for human rights of all citizens and a future in equality open to the possibility of pardon. The pilgrims believe in the sanctity of all human life as it is expressed in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths and in the vocation of all humans to overcome violence through the power of truth, love and forgiveness. These pilgrimages are a sign of solidarity, encouragement and hope for all those who through prayer and action are patiently, and often with great sacrifices, promoting peace for both Palestinians and Israelis.
The pilgrimages combine both the biblical and historical dimension of the visit (for instance in Nazareth, Bethlehem, Hebron and Jerusalem), as well as contacts with Church leaders, politicians, analysts and peace and human rights promoters.
4. Bridges not Walls Campaigns
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. At its international meetings in New Jersey, May 2004, Pax Christi International has been calling all its member organisations to focus its activities on the new symbol of occupation – the “Wall of Shame.” This wall creates a prison. Imprisoning people contributes to injustice, human rights violations and internal conflict.
The year 2007 marks the 40th year of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. The impact of this occupation, which includes poverty, violence, social disintegration and internal conflict, continues to this day.As part of this occupation, Israel began the construction of a 700-kilometre wall that cuts through Palestinian communities, dividing families and their lands, keeping farmers from their crops, children from their schools, the sick from urgent medical care and denying people freedom of movement. The International Court of Justice declared the wall to be illegal in 2004 and instructed Israel to dismantle it. Nevertheless construction continues.
Pax Christi International needs your help to send a strong message to the Israeli government to halt construction of the wall and dismantle the part that has already been built. All member organisations are invited to support a petition suggested by Trocaire, one of our CIDSE partners active on Israel & Palestine.
5. Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum
The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) has been launched at the WCC Conference in Amman, June 2007. PIEF intends to be an instrument to catalyse and coordinate new and existing church advocacy for peace. It will be an expression of churches’ commitment to inter-religious action for peace and justice that serves all the peoples in the region. The Forum will be a participatory group of churches and organisations meeting, interacting and cooperating in order to further a common cause.
Pax Christi International is member of the “core group” of the Forum for the coming 3 years. PIEF will work on both immediate actions oriented strategies and long term transformative strategies pointing towards healing and reconciliation in the context of a just peace. The core group will meet on 17 and 18 September 2007 in Geneva.
6. Prayers and Wishes for Advent and Christmas in Bethlehem 2008
For the eight consecutive years Christmas celebrations will take place in a difficult climate for all peoples in the Holy Land. Nonetheless, many individuals and groups refuse to give up, and are searching for non-violent ways to voice their rights and work for a peaceful and just future for both peoples. We pray for justice, peace and security for Israel and Palestine. All individual members and member organisations and partners are invited to email Advent and Christmas wishes, and prayers for peace to our partners in Bethlehem. This a “low level action” in which all individuals and local communities can participate.
Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is still first and foremost a city of peace. Sending a wish or a prayer by email is an important way of communicating to many people who long to hear a word of hope. Our partners in Bethlehem greatly appreciate receiving wishes and prayers from people outside the region, both as personal and spiritual gestures of comfort and hope on the occasion of Christmas. These messages are one way of breaking through the isolation our Bethlehem partner’s experience. Wishes and prayers will be printed and handed out as personal messages, educational materials (e.g. at schools), and in the context of interfaith prayers (in places of worship). The wishes and prayers could also include ideas for non-violent actions. The action will be launched end of October 2007.
7. Advocacy Programmes
Particularly in cases related to peace and security matters, it is important to build on the knowledge and capacities of local Churches and partners to provide information and analysis. The root causes of a conflict, for instance, must be understood in order to resolve it. Effective lobbying requires strong networks of the affected populations and solid monitoring and information gathering at the community level. It is extremely important to ensure that international advocacy is rooted in the views of the affected society; this gives legitimacy and provides an opportunity for empowerment of the affected society. Therefore, it is suggested to plan for advocacy programmes on the national, regional and international level.
For the delivery of messages on the national level, more effective is the involvement of partners: Church leaders and members of the broad peace, democratic and human rights network of the region. The aim of these programmes could be to witness about the ongoing situation but at the same time to urge political and church authorities to act for just peace in Israel & Palestine.