As a body of 1.7-million members and more than 10,000 congregations, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls on the president of the United States to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.
The situation is escalating beyond control. The bloodshed and wielding of power in the contested land is unconscionable. Hundreds have been killed and thousands wounded, and the death toll continues to rise.
This day, we as people of faith and agents of peace call for an end to the shelling, an end to the rocketfire, an end to the ground attacks. Civilian casualties strewn in homes, on streets, and even within a hospital lie in the wake of Operation Protective Edge launched July 8 by the Israel Defense Forces. It must stop, and it must stop now.
The PC(USA) cries out for this immediate ceasefire knowing the issue is not simple. The drama is layered thick with the realities of contested borders, occupation, blockades, security concerns, failed negotiations, terrorism, and refugees.
Yet bombing and invading Gaza, and firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel will ultimately accomplish nothing more than to inflict harm on the innocent, incite fear and terror among Palestinians and Israelis, and prolong a centuries-old fight.
The Israeli government and Hamas—both complicit in the ongoing violence—must take steps immediately to halt the mayhem. Is it naïve to even suggest that the sides return to negotiations aimed at a two-state solution? Perhaps.
Yet as people guided by a triune God who is active in all facets of peace and reconciliation, we advocate for it anyway. We challenge the Israeli government and Hamas to put down their weapons of war and take up the instruments of dialogue and engagement.
Likewise, we urge U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, working in collaboration with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to take all necessary steps to facilitate both an immediate ceasefire and resumed peace negotiations.
Just as the United States has moved swiftly to provide $47 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza, America also must lead the way in insisting on a ceasefire and enabling negotiations. Therefore, we urge President Obama to use all the diplomatic weight afforded the highest office of this nation to end this conflict, and support all steps toward lasting peace in the Middle East.
The Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Ruling Elder Heath K. Rada, Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)
Ruling Elder Linda Bryant Valentine, Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency