Woman sitting on the ruins of her house' destroyed by Israel in Masafer Yatta January 2023

Woman sitting on the ruins of her house destroyed by Israel in Masafer Yatta January 2023. Photo by שי קנדלר licensed under CC BY 4.0.

As many as 10 Christian denominations and church-based organizations are urging President Joe Biden to actively seek peace between Palestinians and Israelis by ending military aid to the Israeli government. In a letter sent to the president over the weekend, the group described the deteriorating human rights situation and rise in violence in both the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.

“U.S. military funding to Israel in part sustains this violence, making the U.S. government complicit in ongoing abuses,” the letter reads. “As U.S. churches and church-based organizations, we call for change to end this U.S. complicity and ask that the U.S. government hold Israel accountable for its abuses by cutting military aid.”

The letter says the new Israeli government is moving to “undermine the rule of law in Israel” and is directly threatening the rights of women, LGBTQ communities and Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, adding that the abuses and lack of accountability have resulted in decades of Palestinian suffering.

“We have noted the lack of accountability for Israeli killings of civilians, ongoing land expropriation, home demolitions, settlement expansion, movement restrictions and other gross violations of Palestinian rights,” it reads. “The situation for Palestinians has only worsened without any accountability. Despite this reality, in 2016, the U.S. pledged to provide over $38 billion in foreign military assistance and missile defense programs to Israel during the next decade, an $8 billion increase over the previous 10-year period.”

The churches and organizations referred to statistics from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which shows that Israel demolished more than 7,000 Palestinian-owned structures, including 1,450 that were built by international donors including the U.S. It resulted in the displacement of more than 10,000 Palestinians while 140,000 suffered losses.

“B’Tselem, the Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, issued a report in January concluding that Israeli forces killed more Palestinians in 2022 than any year since 2004. Violence has continued to rise in 2023,” the letter reads. “At least 75 Palestinians  including women and children   were killed by Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territory. Settler violence also increased significantly, reaching a peak with the settler attack on the Palestinian village of Huwara during which one Palestinian was killed, more than 350 injured, and dozens of homes, businesses and cars were burned.”

The groups say Israeli actions have created a “reality based on inequality and discrimination” and that the U.S. bears partial responsibility because of its political, diplomatic and financial support for the government of Israel.

“The U.S. must end its military support of Israel, which amounts to $3.8 billion per year,” the letter reads. “This position is consistent with our advocacy for peace and justice  and criticism of U.S military aid to countries of the Middle East  more broadly. Continuing military aid without any accountability will only lead to further violence and abuse.”

In addition to the PC(USA), the letter is signed by:

  • American Friends Service Committee
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • United Church of Christ
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • PAX Christi U.S.A.
  • The United Methodist Church  General Board of Church and Society
  • Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
  • Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Read the full letter here.