October 23, 2015

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C St. NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry,

On behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I write to urge you to use every means at your disposal to help quell the wave of violence that is sweeping Israel and the Occupied Territories. The murderous, random attacks by Palestinians and the violent response to them by Israeli police and military, as well as by vigilante groups of Israeli citizens, have escalated to the point that many wonder where it will end.

We are encouraged by your remarks following your meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “there may be … a way to defuse the situation and begin to find a way forward” (Reuters).

We are troubled by the evidence of incitement on both sides, including remarks by Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas that cannot but inflame already raw feelings and cause an escalation of the violence.

We fully support the renewed efforts by members of the “Quartet” of Middle East peace mediators as they meet in Vienna to attempt, as their policy chief Federica Mogherini said, “to pass a strong message to the parties to calm down the situation on the ground” (Reuters).

While we look forward with hope that in the short term this brutality will cease, we join all who are persuaded that this will recur again and again until the greatest incitement “on the ground”—the Occupation—is ended and Israelis and Palestinians agree to embrace viable self-determination for both communities.

As followers of the Prince of Peace, our prayers are with you and those with whom you work, as you seek to help bring about a lasting settlement, enabling a peaceful and productive future for all the parties.

Sincerely yours,

The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)