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Middle East Study Committee report advances to full Assembly

“Breaking Down the Walls” in amended form receives unanimous vote

July 7, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS

An amended version of the General Assembly Middle East Study Committee (MESC) report, “Breaking Down the Walls,” is being recommended to the full 219th General Assembly (2010) for action.

The vote by the General Assembly Middle East Peacemaking Issues Committee was unanimous.

 

Among the amendments are those calling for the Assembly to:

  • Receive part one of the MESC report, which contains eight individual letters to the ecumenical and interfaith community, Israelis, Palestinians and Americans, as rationale for recommendations only, not as policy.
  • Reaffirm Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation within secure and internationally recognized borders.
  • Authorize the creation of a seven-person monitoring group on the Middle East for the next two years. The group shall include at least one but no more than two members of the existing MESC.
  • Commend for study the Kairos Palestine document (“A Moment of Truth”) and endorse the document’s emphases on hope for liberation, nonviolence, love of enemy and reconciliation. The assembly lifts up for study the often neglected voice of Palestinian Christians and directs the monitoring group for the Middle East to create a study guide for the document.
  • Call on the Israeli and Egyptian governments to limit their blockade of Gaza to military equipment and devices and to guarantee adequate levels of food, medicine, building supplies and other humanitarian supplies and to allow free commercial exchange in and out of Gaza. The assembly would call on the United States government to end support for the blockade that interferes with the adequacy or exchange of such items.
  • Delete a majority of part three – study materials to be used by individuals, groups and churches for further study – and ask the monitoring group to replace it with eight comparable narratives arising from “authentically” Palestinian (Christian and Muslim) and Israeli perspectives that are pro-justice and pro-peace. The appendixes in the MESC report would remain.

Answered by the committee’s action on the MESC report are the following items:

  • Calling for the Kairos Palestine document to be commended to the church as an advocacy tool.
  • Calling on the PC(USA) to defer from taking any positions or making policy statements on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
  • Calling for the recognition that Israel’s laws, policies and practices constitute apartheid against the Palestinian people. The committee added the comment: “While we are deeply concerned with the policies implemented by Israel in relation to the Palestinian territories and Palestinians under its jurisdiction, we believe that dialogue is hampered by words like ‘apartheid.’”

Also approved was the item seeking compliance to U.S. government policy in the use of military aid in Israel and Palestine.