LWF General Secretary Junge Urges Political Solution and Support for ELCJHL
Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) has called for an immediate and unconditional cessation of the hostilities between Israel and Palestine, which have led to loss of civilian lives, human suffering and instilled absolute fear.
In a statement issued from Jerusalem, Younan, who is also President of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), said that many people in the region are depressed, frustrated and wondering about the future of Palestine and the Middle East, following the recent escalation of violence.
“What Palestine and Israel need at the moment is justice, peace and dignity rather than the radicalization, revenge, and bloodshed promoted by one-sided diplomatic or military support for either group,” Younan said.
His plea for an immediate cessation of hostilities was echoed by LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge, who called the new wave of violence “an escalation of madness” that will result in all parties losing.
Younan said his church, which has always condemned violence as a way of solving conflict, was deeply troubled by the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers and the subsequent kidnapping and burning alive of a Palestinian teenager, which triggered the current wave of violence.
“We strongly condemn both of these actions as inhumane and despicable acts,” the Holy Land bishop said.
The bishop also unequivocally condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas against civilian targets and the ongoing Israeli blockade and bombardment of Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of over 200 people, 80 percent of whom are civilians, and 20 percent include children.
“Both expressions of violence are flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights laws and should be immediately ended,” Younan said.
He expressed ELCJHL’s fears that the current violence will force more Palestinian Christians to emigrate, and he urged them to stay and work for peace and justice, acting as bridge builders. The Israeli siege on Gaza must be lifted; material support for religious cooperation and peace building must be provided by the international community, he said.
“Please do not leave us alone in this moment of struggle. The whole Middle East is boiling,” the bishop urged.
In calling for an immediate ceasefire and political negotiations to deal with the situation of Palestinians, Junge emphasized the LWF’s wholehearted support for the ELCJHL and its prophetic voice, as well as its work including education, interfaith dialogue and peace building.
“Never before has its [ELCJHL] voice of moderation and its call for dialogue been more important; never before has its ministry among the youth and education been more pivotal than at this moment in order to turn the tide.”
Junge urged LWF member churches to continue also supporting LWF’s ministries in the Holy Land, including the Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives and the vocational training centers of the LWF Jerusalem program that empower and train youth.
He called on LWF member churches to also lobby their respective governments to support the Palestinian Authority in order to maintain basic social services, which have been hurt by the recent violence.
The general secretary reiterated LWF’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years—resumption of direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace and a two-state solution based on 1967 borders.