israeli palestinian conflict

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Abu Mazen’s status on the world stage seems to be sky-rocketing! He has had an audience with the Pope! What next – the Queen of England perhaps?

Certainly it is a good thing to see Christians standing in solidarity with their Palestinian brethren when so much of the Western church seems to hold them in contempt. Let’s hope though that these diplomatic gestures will achieve something concrete.

Father Dave

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

source: Al-Bushra

Solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires talks, pope says

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Just weeks after the Vatican praised Palestine’s boosted status as a non-member observer state at the United Nations, Pope Benedict XVI met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a private audience at the Vatican.

During the “cordial” talks in the papal library Dec. 17, the two men discussed the need to restart talks between Israelis and Palestinians in a way that respects the rights of all parties involved, said a statement from the Vatican press office.

In discussions about the U.N. vote last month, the Vatican said it was hoped Palestine’s new U.N. status “will encourage the commitment of the international community to finding a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which may be reached only by resuming negotiations between the parties, in good faith and according due respect to the rights of both,” the statement said.

The two leaders also talked about the broader situation in the Middle East, which is “troubled by numerous conflicts,” and expressed hopes that “the courage for reconciliation and peace will be found,” the Vatican statement said.

The contribution Christian communities can offer in promoting the common good for the territories and the whole region was also discussed, it said.

As Abbas arrived, the pope greeted him in English, saying, “Welcome, it’s good to see you.” The president replied, “I’m very glad to see you here again.” Abbas had met with the pope at the Vatican in June 2011.

The pope and Abbas spoke privately for 25 minutes before the president introduced his eight-man delegation. The pope gave Abbas a painting of the fountains in the Vatican gardens.

Abbas, who is president of the Palestinian National Authority, gave the pope a picture of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, traditionally believed to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection.

The pope said, in Italian, “It’s very beautiful. Thank you.”

The artwork, made up of large painted tiles, had an inscription — in English and Arabic — that said, “Presented by President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) President of the State of Palestine,” reporters said.

Reporters traveling with the Palestinian delegation said that “it was not the first time” Abbas referred to the Palestinian territories as a Palestinian state since the U.N. General Assembly voted last month to grant Palestinians observer status.

Abbas’ visit to the Vatican was part of a larger “tour of thanks,” reporters said, expressing gratitude to world leaders for their support of Palestine’s increased status at the United Nations.

Last month, 138 member states voted to boost Palestine’s status from “entity” to “non-member state” — the same status held by the Holy See — in an implicit recognition of Palestinian sovereignty. Israel, the United States and Canada were among the nine states that voted against the motion. Forty-one countries abstained.

The Vatican had praised the United Nations vote, but called for full recognition of Palestinian sovereignty as necessary for peace in the region. Pope Benedict has repeatedly called for a two-state solution to “become a reality, not remain a dream.”

After meeting the pope, Abbas met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican secretary for relations with states.

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Along with the withholding of funds from the Palestinian Authority, the expansion of the dreaded settlements seems to be Mr Netanyahu’s response to the UN Palestine vote.

The US condemns the settlements, but mere words from the Whitehouse are not going to change anything, and Mr Netanyahu knows that the Whitehouse is not going to oppose him with anything more than mere words.

The highlights in this Reuters’ report are from Father Roy 

 

U.S. repeats opposition to new Israeli settlements

WASHINGTON | Mon Dec 3, 2012 1:05pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Mondayreiterated its opposition to new Israeli settlement activity on occupied land including in the site known as “E1”, which it said could be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The United States opposes all unilateral actions, including West Bank settlement activity and housing construction in East Jerusalem, as they complicate efforts to resume direct, bilateral negotiations,” State Department spokeman Mark Toner said in a statement.

This includes building in the E-1 area as this area is particularly sensitive and construction there would be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution.”

Israel indicated in Monday it had no plan to backtrack on a settlement expansion plan that has drawn strong international condemnation and includes “preliminary zoning and planning work” for settler housing in the so-called “E1” zone east of Jerusalem. “We have made clear to the Israeli government that such action is contrary to U.S. policy,” Toner said in his statement, which urged both Israel and the Palestinians to cease unilateral actions and take steps to return to direct negotiations.

Israel announced plans to build 3,000 more homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Friday, a day after the U.N. General Assembly granted de facto recognition to Palestinian statehood over Israeli and U.S. objections.

(Reporting By Andrew Quinn; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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Father Roy writes:  The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is a woman who flies an airplane:  Katharine Jefferts Schori.  The PB calls for peace in the Middle East to become an election issue.  The text of her letter is pasted below.   Peace, Roy 

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

photo: Jonathunder (creative commons licence)

article source: Episcopal News Service

Presiding bishop writes to presidential candidates

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has written to the presidential candidates, urging President Barack Obama and the Hon. Mitt Romney “to use the debate forum to articulate strong support for a just and peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a clear plan for how you would work to support that goal in the next four years.”

The following is the text of the letter:

October 12, 2012

The Hon. Barack Obama The Hon. Mitt Romney
c/o Obama for America c/o Romney for President
P.O. Box 803638 PO Box 149756
Chicago, IL 60686 Boston, MA 02114-9756

Dear Mr. President and Governor Romney,

As each of you prepares for the two remaining presidential debates, I write to urge you to use the debate forum to articulate strong support for a just and peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a clear plan for how you would work to support that goal in the next four years.

While the volatile political nature across the Middle East has emerged as a key theme in this year’s campaign, I am concerned by the relative absence of discussion of a conflict that is central to that region’s future. This week Palestinian leaders have signaled their willingness to consider a return to the negotiating table, and it will be vital for the next President to prioritize the re-launch of the peace process and to articulate a clear vision for how American diplomatic leadership can assist and encourage negotiations.

Support for a two-state solution is the shared policy of the United States government, the government of Israel, and the Palestinian National Authority. The contours of such a solution should be clear to all: a secure and universally recognized Israel, the homeland for the Jewish people, standing alongside a viable, contiguous, and independent Palestinian state with a shared Jerusalem as the capital for each state. Despite widespread recognition that a solution should reflect this goal, progress toward it has remained elusive.

In the meantime, the level of strife in the conflict has grown. Several current trends give significant cause for alarm, including the threat to Israel’s security from others in the region, most especially a nuclear Iran; continued Israeli settlement building, particularly in and around Jerusalem, at a pace and pattern that complicates the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state; unacceptable levels of violence on all sides; and the humanitarian disaster of the Gaza Strip. Each of these complicates the task of peace negotiations, and each passing day makes a final solution more difficult to achieve.

While it remains fundamentally true that only direct bilateral negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians themselves can bring about a just and lasting peace, history is clear that American political leadership has the power to play a catalytic role in supporting the work of peacemakers. As you present your foreign-policy plans to the American people, I urge you to discuss specifically how you would work with our nation’s partners in the Quartet for Middle East Peace to support the resumption and successful completion of negotiations. I urge you to be as specific as possible, considering not just the complexities of the issues to be resolved by the parties, but also the impact of such factors as the upcoming Israeli elections, Palestinian political division, rising unrest and extremism in the region, and the tragic humanitarian dimensions of the conflict.

As Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, I lead a faith community with a particular concern for peaceful resolution of this long and devastating conflict. Our Church’s partner in the region, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, has stood for decades as a voice of peace and moderation – and a significant provider of healthcare, education, and social services – in the midst of the various instabilities of the region. The Diocese of Jerusalem, together with its Episcopal and Anglican partners in the United States and throughout the world, works to build understanding and reconciliation through these forms of human service – in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, has described the role of Christians in the Holy Land as to “work together with people of other faiths to encourage the politicians to put politics aside and meet midway, where all people are equal.”

I believe that the next American President has an opportunity and a responsibility to help make this vision of reconciliation a reality. The peace and stability of the region, the safety and human dignity of those who live in the midst of this conflict, and the moral character of our own nation all require the full engagement of the United States and its President in the resolution of the conflict. Would that we were again known as builders of peace on the global stage!

Please know that my prayers are with each of you, and with our nation, in these undoubtedly challenging and personally costly final days of the campaign. I remain

Your servant in Christ

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church

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Father Roy writes: Shimon Fogel is CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of Canada The UCC has scheduled the crucial vote for today. See my highlights in the article pasted below   Peace, Roy 

Boycott of Israeli settlements would shatter United Church’s credibility

The Globe and Mail

On Tuesday, the United Church of Canada (UCC) will vote on the Report of the Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy, which includes a church-wide boycott of goods from Israeli settlements. That report, sadly, has failed to grasp what’s really at stake in this decision. A boycott of Israel launched in any form would put the United Church outside the genuine peace movement and the Canadian consensus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As hurtful as this would be to the Jewish community, it pales in comparison to the long-term damage it would cause to the reputation of one of Canada’s foremost voices in civil society: the United Church itself.

Granted, the church has removed a disturbing statement from the original report that the deepest meaning of the Holocaust was the denial of human dignity (and posits a moral equivalence with the challenges faced by Palestinians). Yet the report still calls on the UCC to “acknowledge with deep regret” its past policy of asking the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. What this move would achieve is anyone’s guess. But the notion that the Palestinians can continue to deny Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state (as it was explicitly affirmed by the UN’s 1947 partition resolution) only relieves the Palestinian leadership of the duty to reconcile with its neighbour – and with reality.

No less disturbing is the report’s thesis that the occupation is “the primary contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence in the region,” that settlements are the chief obstacle to peace, and that Israel alone must be pressed to resolve the conflict. Put aside that the Arab-Israeli conflict began in 1948 (decades before settlements existed) and that the violent repression in Syria and throughout the region has nothing to do with Israel. On the issue of settlements, we have history as our guide.

In 1982, Israel withdrew every last settler from the Sinai after securing a peace agreement with Egypt. Both countries have since benefited from peace. In 2005, Israel withdrew every settler from Gaza as a unilateral gesture without a peace agreement. Civilians in southern Israel have since been targeted by some 10,000 missiles and mortars from Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza.

History is clear. Israeli withdrawals must include peace and security guarantees signed by Israel’s neighbours, as per international law under UNSC Resolution 242.

It’s astonishing that Israel’s removal of thousands of settlers from the Sinai and Gaza is not mentioned once in the UCC’s report – despite “settlements” appearing no fewer than 54 times. That “terrorism” is mentioned once and “Hamas” and “Hezbollah” receive no mention at all speaks volumes to the report’s lack of balance. Indeed, it reflects a minimization of key obstacles to peace (including anti-Jewish incitement, continuing terrorism, and yes, Hamas – the archetype of Arab rejection of the Jewish state).

Peace will come only through negotiations and painful concessions by both Israelis and Palestinians. This is the consensus among most Canadians and across the political spectrum (the NDP, under both Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair, firmly rejected boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts). No doubt this reflects the majority of UCC members, who would hope to play a constructive role in supporting the legitimate aspirations of both sides. Should a small minority of boycott advocates succeed, the greatest resulting injury would not be to the relationship between the UCC and the Jewish community, but rather between the UCC and its own congregants.

The framework for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict described above is also upheld by the mainstream peace movement, which is engaged in a myriad of projects to bring both sides together. To contribute to this movement, one need not refrain from criticizing particular Israeli policies (as Israeli peace activists can attest). One must simply commit to advancing peace through balance, mutual obligations and reconciliation – rather than coercion and the singling out of one side for blame.

Unfortunately, were the UCC to launch a church-wide boycott, it would alienate one of Canada’s most prominent churches from this important cause. In so doing, the church would not only be turning away from Canada’s Jewish community, but ultimately from the UCC’s own tradition as a leading voice in civil society for fairness, moderation and peace.

Shimon Fogel is CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of Canada.

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Father Roy writes: Shimon Fogel is CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of Canada The UCC has scheduled the crucial vote for today. See my highlights in the article pasted below   Peace, Roy 

Click here: Boycott of Israeli settlements would shatter United Church’s credibility – The Globe and Mail

Boycott of Israeli settlements would shatter United Church’s credibility

The Globe and Mail

On Tuesday, the United Church of Canada (UCC) will vote on the Report of the Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy, which includes a church-wide boycott of goods from Israeli settlements. That report, sadly, has failed to grasp what’s really at stake in this decision. A boycott of Israel launched in any form would put the United Church outside the genuine peace movement and the Canadian consensus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As hurtful as this would be to the Jewish community, it pales in comparison to the long-term damage it would cause to the reputation of one of Canada’s foremost voices in civil society: the United Church itself.

Granted, the church has removed a disturbing statement from the original report that the deepest meaning of the Holocaust was the denial of human dignity (and posits a moral equivalence with the challenges faced by Palestinians). Yet the report still calls on the UCC to “acknowledge with deep regret” its past policy of asking the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. What this move would achieve is anyone’s guess. But the notion that the Palestinians can continue to deny Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state (as it was explicitly affirmed by the UN’s 1947 partition resolution) only relieves the Palestinian leadership of the duty to reconcile with its neighbour – and with reality.

No less disturbing is the report’s thesis that the occupation is “the primary contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence in the region,” that settlements are the chief obstacle to peace, and that Israel alone must be pressed to resolve the conflict. Put aside that the Arab-Israeli conflict began in 1948 (decades before settlements existed) and that the violent repression in Syria and throughout the region has nothing to do with Israel. On the issue of settlements, we have history as our guide.

In 1982, Israel withdrew every last settler from the Sinai after securing a peace agreement with Egypt. Both countries have since benefited from peace. In 2005, Israel withdrew every settler from Gaza as a unilateral gesture without a peace agreement. Civilians in southern Israel have since been targeted by some 10,000 missiles and mortars from Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza.

History is clear. Israeli withdrawals must include peace and security guarantees signed by Israel’s neighbours, as per international law under UNSC Resolution 242.

It’s astonishing that Israel’s removal of thousands of settlers from the Sinai and Gaza is not mentioned once in the UCC’s report – despite “settlements” appearing no fewer than 54 times. That “terrorism” is mentioned once and “Hamas” and “Hezbollah” receive no mention at all speaks volumes to the report’s lack of balance. Indeed, it reflects a minimization of key obstacles to peace (including anti-Jewish incitement, continuing terrorism, and yes, Hamas – the archetype of Arab rejection of the Jewish state).

Peace will come only through negotiations and painful concessions by both Israelis and Palestinians. This is the consensus among most Canadians and across the political spectrum (the NDP, under both Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair, firmly rejected boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts). No doubt this reflects the majority of UCC members, who would hope to play a constructive role in supporting the legitimate aspirations of both sides. Should a small minority of boycott advocates succeed, the greatest resulting injury would not be to the relationship between the UCC and the Jewish community, but rather between the UCC and its own congregants.

The framework for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict described above is also upheld by the mainstream peace movement, which is engaged in a myriad of projects to bring both sides together. To contribute to this movement, one need not refrain from criticizing particular Israeli policies (as Israeli peace activists can attest). One must simply commit to advancing peace through balance, mutual obligations and reconciliation – rather than coercion and the singling out of one side for blame.

Unfortunately, were the UCC to launch a church-wide boycott, it would alienate one of Canada’s most prominent churches from this important cause. In so doing, the church would not only be turning away from Canada’s Jewish community, but ultimately from the UCC’s own tradition as a leading voice in civil society for fairness, moderation and peace.

Shimon Fogel is CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations of Canada.