TORONTO, May 1, 2012 /CNW/ - The United Church of Canada today released the report of its Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy. The report will be considered by the denomination's 41st General Council, which meets in Ottawa, August 11-18, 2012. Until that time the working group's report is not policy of the church, and its proposals are solely recommendations.
The 26-page report was completed following extensive consultation and discussion, including a 12-day visit to the region in February 2011. During that visit the working group met with representatives of Palestinian, Israeli, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities in Israel and the West Bank.
Former United Church Moderator, the Very Rev. David Giuliano, chaired the three-member working group. He says the working group believes that the dignity of all peoples in the region must be at the heart of the policy directions set out in the report.
"Without dignity for all the people of the land, and for the land itself, justice that leads to peace is not possible," says Giuliano.
Giuliano says the working group listened carefully to many points of view in the conflict but did not shy away from arriving at its own conclusions.
"Simply put, Israel is maintaining a harsh occupation that must end so peace can emerge. The occupation is damaging both Palestinians and Israelis. The occupation is being implemented by a democratic country and sustained and supported by Western governments, including Canada's," says the report.
The working group also
- calls for an end to the occupation, saying that it is the primary contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence of the region
- condemns actions and activities that seek to delegitimize or demonize Israel
- affirms that non-violent resistance to the occupation is justified
- calls on Israel to dismantle settlements within the occupied territories
- calls on Israel to dismantle the separation barrier in all sections where it crosses over the Green Line
- challenges Christian beliefs that theologically justify the occupation
- advises against a comprehensive boycott of Israel and Israeli goods and products
- calls for an economic boycott directed exclusively against settlement products that can be identified as produced in or related to the settlements or the occupied territories
- advises against the use of "the language of apartheid" when applied to Israel
- affirms Israel as a Jewish state, meaning a homeland for the Jewish people that "ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or gender"
- supports initiatives that work toward the creation of a viable Palestinian state as a homeland for the Palestinian people
- supports a negotiated settlement to the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees that maintains the demographic integrity of Israel
- calls for opportunities that will bring together Palestinian and Israeli/Jewish communities for growth in mutual understanding
"The future of Israel and of Palestine are intimately intertwined," says Giuliano. "Until Palestinian people experience justice, peace, and freedom of movement, Israel will be unable to fully claim its place among democratic nations."
The complete text of the working group's report is posted on the United Church's 41st General Council website: www.gc41.ca/background-material.
Video clips of the three members of the working group talking about the report are available on the United Church's YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/unitedchurchofcanada .
Full text news release: www.united-church.ca.
For further information:
Media and Public Relations
The United Church of Canada
416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (office)