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PC(USA) stated clerk urges Palestinian leaders to work with each other, Israel

‘Give us hope for peace,’ letter states

October 18, 2012

LOUISVILLE

In a letter to leaders of clashing political parties in Palestine, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons pushes for an end to their power struggle and calls for them to be unified representatives of the Palestinian people.

The Oct. 16 letter, addressed to leaders of Hamas and Fatah, urges the groups to “renew your efforts toward reconciliation.”

Both sides have stated their intentions to forge a unity agreement, a “prerequisite to your ability to show a united ‘face’ to the Israelis at the negotiating table,” the letter states. But recent obstacles in the West Bank and Gaza’s upcoming elections are cause for concern.

“It is obvious that as long as this struggle for power and authority persists, the Israeli’s accusation that they have no ‘partner’ with whom to negotiate a peace agreement remains true,” the letter states.

The PC(USA) has been a strong advocate for both Israel’s and Palestine’s right to self-determination and freedom to live in peace alongside their neighbor.

“We have spoken strongly and consistently against our own government’s years of military aid and other forms of support for Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. Yet our voice is weakened and ignored as long as we cannot point to Palestinian leaders that will sit at the table with Israel as unified, viable representatives of the Palestinian people.”

The full text of the letter:

His Excellency Mahmood Abbas
His Excellency Salam Fayyed
His Excellency Khaled Mashaal
His Excellency Ismael Hanieyh

Dear Partners for Peace,

From the unilateral establishment of the State of Israel, and throughout the ensuing years, our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been an unrelenting advocate for peace among Jews and Palestinians in the land that is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

We have recognized the State of Israel as the expressed right of the Israeli people for self-determination and have affirmed the right of Israelis to live in a free, democratic society at peace with their neighbors. At the same time, we have advocated in the strongest terms for the right of the Palestinian people for self-determination in a state of their own, alongside Israel, in which they also can live in freedom and at peace with their neighbors.

Underlying our advocacy has been the conviction that any acceptable peace settlement must reflect adherence to international law, respect for the human rights of all, and conformity to the parameters established by the United Nations in Resolution 242 and others that address the territorial issues.

We are fully aware of the conflicts within the Palestinian community, including the desire of the Palestinian Authority, led primarily by Fatah, to be the primary representative of the Palestinian people, over against the primary, indeed controlling role of Hamas in Gaza. We were encouraged by the democratic elections in 2006, although the reaction of the U.S. and other governments to the outcomes, followed by your own internal strife over the results, cast a pall on our hopes. It is obvious that as long as this struggle for power and authority persists, the Israeli’s accusation that they have no “partner” with whom to negotiate a peace agreement remains true.

We have been heartened in recent months by the public statements of leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority of your intention to come together and forge a unity agreement. That is a prerequisite to your ability to show a united “face” to the Israelis at the negotiating table. The upcoming elections in the West Bank and Gaza — the first since 2006 — are a positive step for all Palestinians in the struggle for self-determination. Unfortunately, our hopes have been dimmed by the recent announcement that the work of the Central Election Committee has been suspended in Gaza, and that the campaigns of some candidates have been hindered in the West Bank.

Regardless of the outcome of these developments, we are writing to urge you, once again, as leaders of Fatah and Hamas to renew your efforts toward reconciliation. We continue to challenge the injustices of the Israeli occupation, the expansion of the settlements and the hardships imposed on all Palestinians. We have spoken strongly and consistently against our own government’s years of military aid and other forms of support for Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. Yet our voice is weakened and ignored as long as we cannot point to Palestinian leaders that will sit at the table with Israel as unified, viable representatives of the Palestinian people.

We urge you, with all our hearts, to lay aside your differences and give us hope for peace.

Sincerely,

Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

  1. Genisis 12:2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. I would say you dishonored Israel so all I have to say is....Good Luck! On another note, writing to terrorists? Really? Hamas is a terrorist organization and they were seen celebrating in the streets during 9/11. Syria, Sudan, Lybia to name a few countries that you could be focusing on as far as "human rights violations" and you dishonor God's holy people? No wonder why you are losing members by the dozens daily. Once again, I wish you luck!

    by B Scott

    October 24, 2012

  2. We are blessed to have a stated clerk with such a clear vision who speaks to our church about the need for actions that move us toward reconciliation and peace. We want the Israeli government to abide by international law. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict impacts the entire world; finding reconciliation there will bring healing to the world.

    by Susan Barnes

    October 24, 2012

  3. I don't think this takes courage. The other went to congress. Why are you not asking for gender equality and respect for those with other beliefs.

    by carol caruthers

    October 23, 2012

  4. Thank you Gradye Parsons for your request to these Palestinian political leaders as well as the Oct. 8 letter to Congress. Unlike a previous comment, my husband and I joined the PC(USA) 11 years ago in great part because of its courageous and principled stand for justice in Israel/Palestine. We are behind you 100% in these actions.

    by Sharon Shohfi

    October 23, 2012

  5. Dear Gradye: thanks for your principled stand for justice in ISrael/Palestine. You have thousands with you in the PCUSA and no doubt more supporters across Europe and the Middle East who see the PCUSA as courageous, faithful, and a church that brings hope to those who have no voice. Christ's peace and strength to you and the PCUSA staff; Rev. Don Wagner, Nat'l Program Dir., Friends of Sabeel--North America (and ordained in the PCUSA)

    by Don Wagner

    October 23, 2012

  6. Gradye has done us proud once again in speaking truth to those who can make a difference in the search for peace - if they only had the will to do so.

    by Melinda Thompson

    October 23, 2012

  7. Thank you for representing PCUSA so well. Just as we were represented well in calling for an end to US military aid, so we need to encourage actions which can make negotiation of peace possible. The present situation makes life impossibly difficult for Palestinians and threatens a good life for Israelis as well.

    by Miriam Kishi

    October 22, 2012

  8. Gradye Parsons, Thank you for authoring this formal request of the leadership in Palestine.

    by Jo lucas

    October 22, 2012

  9. Mr. Parsons' letter is just one of the reasons I am excited about the PC(USA). I believe that we are called as Christians to speak the 'truth to power' as he again exhibits. And not to be willing to accept the status quo (unquestioning support to a county perpetuating an occupation and an apartheid state). And in calling for reconciliation, accountability and justice.

    by Sue Dravis

    October 22, 2012

  10. This, along with Mr. Parsons' October 8 letter to Congress asking for an investigation of Israel, are just two of the many reasons why I am leaving the PC(USA) at the end of this year when my current term as an officer expires.

    by Kevin Lightner

    October 20, 2012

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