Friday, September 16, 2005

Lutherans endorse two-state solution Palestine-Israel

Lutherans call for two-state solution in Israel and Palestine -07/09/05

The overseeing council of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has reiterated its call for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and has affirmed the implementation of a roadmap for peace as crucial to establishing a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, with a shared city of Jerusalem.

The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of Christian churches. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world, with a total membership of nearly 66 million.In a public statement adopted yesterday at the end of its week-long meeting in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the LWF council said that many of its members had encountered “the [Israeli] separation wall and found shocking its impact on the daily lives of Palestinians.”

The council further endorsed Bishop Younan’s call for an annual gathering in Jerusalem for prayers for peace and reconciliation involving Christians, Muslims, Jews, Palestinians and Israelis.

It also stressed the LWF’s continued support for inter-faith dialogue. They mentioned the Israeli separation wall’s implication for, among others, church members who could not attend services; farmers who were cut off from their fields; school-children delayed in or prevented from reaching their schools; and patients, who were unable to reach hospitals and clinics.In a statement entitled “Challenged to a Ministry of Reconciliation in the Holy Land,” the representatives of LWF member churches from all over the world said their stay in Jerusalem and Bethlehem had opened the “eyes of many of us to the daily sufferings of the Palestinian people, often not shown to us by the media, and in which context our member church speaks boldly a message of hope and reconciliation.”

This year’s LWF council meeting was hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). Referring to the opening worship sermon by ELCJHL Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, the Lutheran World Federation council members said: “Healing must begin with truth-telling and with breaking the silence that hides the suffering of those who are vulnerable and violated.”

Only such a start would allow the possibility of healing with justice and forgiveness, they noted. The public statement also pointed to the Palestinians’ significantly compromised freedom of movement that included separation of married persons from their families because they lacked the same required residence permit as their partner or children. It cited the lack of family reunification as among a series of pressures upon Palestinians in the Jerusalem area where houses were being demolished by the Israeli authorities and other facts on the ground were being created with the enlargement of settlements, forcing Palestinians off their land.

“The prevention of home and land confiscation and the creation of additional housing is essential in Jerusalem and other areas to help maintain their human right to housing as well as the demographic status quo,” the public statement declared. The LWF council members say increasing constraints on Palestinians are leading to a decreasing number of Christians in the Holy Land. They stressed the need for financial assistance toward education and other forms of investment in people in order to ensure the “enduring presence” of Christians in the region.

They continued: “Such assistance is an investment in people’s hope for positive change and contributes to preparing a fertile ground for building understanding among Palestinians and Israelis for reconciliation now and in the future.”

Lutheran World Federation member churches are being encouraged to make pilgrimages of peace to the churches in the region, to enable people to experience the living conditions in Palestinian areas and to promote the mutual renewal of faith.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia
St. James

The Moderator