Framework Paper
for an International Ecumenical Response
to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

(For Background Information)
A. Background

Statements of the WCC and the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem on the Palestinian Uprising

1.11 Immediately after the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Uprising, otherwise known as the Al-Aqsa Intifadah, the Patriarchs and Heads of Christian Communities in Jerusalem denounced the aggression of the sanctuary of a holy place in Jerusalem and affirmed their "solidarity with the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians alike, in defending their fundamental rights of worship and prayer in Jerusalem." They went on to add that they reaffirm their Christian position, "of the need to ensure the freedom of movement, access, worship and prayer, as much as the need to put an end to violations against all holy places in Jerusalem". They called for the implementation of all relevant UN resolutions, particularly those related to Jerusalem, " in order to secure a comprehensive, just and lasting peace for the people of all the three monotheistic religions in the Holy Land." (Statement of Their Beatitudes the Patriarchs and Heads of Christian Communities, 30.9.00)

1.12 Almost ten days after this Uprising, the WCC General Secretary, Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser in his letter dated 10.10.00 to UN Secretary General, H.E. Mr Kofi Annan, welcomed "Security Council resolution 1322 (2000) and its call for the immediate cessation of violence and all further acts of provocation."

1.13 The Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches (CCIA/WCC), in its written submission to the Fifth Special Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) on 16th October, 2000, recommended that the UNCHR respond to the UN Security Council resolution 1322 (2000) by contributing within its mandate to a "speedy and objective inquiry into the tragic events of the last few days with the aim of achieving an early final settlement between the Israeli and Palestinian sides".

1.14 The CCIA/WCC participated actively in the fifth special session of the UNCHR, taking place from 17-19 October 2000, with a head and representatives of churches in Jerusalem and welcomed its resolution S-5/1, which inter alia decided to establish, on an urgent basis, a human rights inquiry commission, "whose membership should be based on the principles of independence and objectivity, to gather and compile information on violations of human rights and acts which constitute grave breaches of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupying Power in the occupied Palestinian territories and to the Commission with its conclusions and recommendations, with the aim of preventing the repetition of the recent human rights violations." (E/CN.4/RES/S-5/1)

1.15 On the 9th November, 2000 all thirteen Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches of Jerusalem, released an appeal in which they clearly stated that they "believe that it is truly high time to put an end to such cycles of mutual disaster". The appeal went on to state that "so long as one people remains the subject of injustice, it will continue to be a constant source of fear and insecurity for its neighbour. The Church believes that it is the right as much as duty of an occupied people to struggle against injustice in order to gain their freedom, although it also believes that non-violent means of struggle remain stronger and far more efficient. In this sense, both parties must show the necessary fortitude, both in their hearts and in their minds, to look at the core of the conflict so that the Palestinian people can gain at long last its full freedom within its own sustainable state. It is imperative now to implement the principles of international legitimacy by enforcing the binding UN Security Council resolutions. Such fortitude is a wise sign of foresight and an indispensable prerequisite for long-lasting peace."(A Faithful Appeal from the Churches of Jerusalem, 9.11.00)

1.16 On the 12th December in a letter to the Patriarchs and Heads of Christian Communities in Jerusalem, WCC General Secretary, on behalf of the Officers of the WCC, noted that "just peace and an end to the vicious cycle of violence is more than an urgent political necessity." He added that "a cease-fire, desirable as it would be, is not clearly enough. Our shared goal must be true peace, a peace built on the foundations of justice".

1.17 The 2000 Common Christmas Message of the Patriarchs and Heads of Christian Communities in Jerusalem, of 17 December, lamented that "hope has been replaced by fear, despair, pain, loss and death. Stones and shells are competing unequally on a daily basis. Palestinians and Israelis are living once again with the painful realities of violence, terror, injustice, closures, insecurity and dehumanization." They went on to "urge the leaders of the international community to help all those fighting to tackle the root causes of the conflict, and to give back to the Palestinian people their freedom and dignity so that the Israeli people can then enjoy security and tranquility..." "Today, we need to find ways in our own hearts and minds where we can nurture a culture of peace." ( Common Christmas Message 2000 of the Patriarchs and Heads of Christian Communities in the Holy Land, 17.12.00)

1.18 On the eve of the Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Peace and Reconciliation (2001-2010), the WCC Central Committee, meeting in Potsdam, Germany expressed "deep sadness and grave concern at the new escalation of violence"... in the Holy Land. It unanimously declared that they were "deeply disturbed by a pattern of discrimination, routine humiliation, segregation and exclusion which restricts Palestinian freedom of movement, including access to the Holy sites and includes the disproportionate use of military force by Israel, the denial of access to timely medical assistance, the destruction of property, including tens of thousands of olive trees, and which requires special permission for Palestinians to enter areas under Israeli jurisdiction and establishes "cantonization" of the land, so that Palestinian land is separated from one another - a pattern of very reminiscent of policies that the WCC has condemned in the past."

They "therefore urged the member churches of the WCC to increase their efforts to condemn injustice and all forms of discrimination, to end Israeli occupation, to pray for and promote a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East." In addition they called upon the WCC General Secretary and staff to :

  • continue their support of efforts towards a negotiated peace in the Middle East, based on international law, paying special attention to the future status of Jerusalem, the right of return of Palestinian refugees, the increasing number of settlements and measures to enforce all relevant UN resolutions, including those regarding the withdrawal of all occupied Arab lands;
  • continue to analyze and to keep the member churches regularly informed on the evolving situation;
  • accompany the churches of the Holy Land and their members, and advocate their rights,
  • support local Israeli and Palestinian grassroots peacebuilding efforts; and
  • promote and /or cooperate with church, ecumenical and other initiatives, to strengthen broad international support for a comprehensive peace based on justice and security for all peoples of the region.

    1.19 On the 24th March, the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem sent out an appeal requesting "protection for all our people in order to assist the reestablishment of mutual trust and security for Israelis and Palestinians. Further we call on all peace-loving people from around the world to come and join us in a manifestation of just peace". (Appeal from the Churches of Jerusalem,24.03.01)

    1.20 Subsequently, in its oral intervention at the 57th Session of the UNCHR, taking place from March - April 2001, the CCIA/WCC asked the members of the Commission to "endorse and follow up on the recommendations of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inquiry Commission as expressed in their submitted statements to the 57th Session, including: the establishment of an adequate and effective international presence to ensure full protection of the human rights of Palestinian people and the need for a negotiated, comprehensive, just and durable peace." (CCIA/WCC intervention under item 8: Question of the Violation of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine, 29.3.01)

    In addition the WCC intervention called for the 57th Session to follow up on the implementation of UN Resolution S-5/1 of 19 October 2000, including "its call upon Israel to put an immediate end of the use of force against unarmed civilians and to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under Fourth Geneva Convention ;its call upon the international community to put an end to the ongoing violations of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, including the military occupation itself and its requests for the visits of the Special Rapporteurs". (CCIA/WCC intervention under item 8: Question of the Violation of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine, 29.3.01)

    Further Actions by the World Council of Churches
    (October 2000- June 2001/updated 30.7.01)

    2.11 Apart from taking the lead in advocacy at the UN CHR and the Missions to the UN in Geneva and adopting statements and writing letters as mentioned above, WCC/IR provided information on the developments in the region and analysis of the Oslo process to its constituency, maintained an informative website on Jerusalem and brought the voice of the churches at different governmental, inter-governmental, ecumenical and non-governmental forums.

    2.12 On March 1st, 2001, WCC/IR convened a one day meeting with members of the APRODEV Middle East working group and Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) and the Middle East Forum of Church World Service (CWS) of the NCCCUSA. This was the first attempt by WCC to bring together a selected number of partners working on Middle East across the Atlantic together for sharing, planning and coordination, with Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations. The meeting, albeit too short and mainly focusing on the UN CHR, provided a very useful platform for coordination and cooperation. Members requested for the WCC to convene such meetings on a regular basis.(Ref. meeting memo 1.3.01) In a follow up encounter in Geneva on August 8th , members of the APRODEV Middle East Working Group and WCC Director on the Cluster on Relations agreed that IR staff will be invited to the meetings of the Working Group to further strengthen cooperation between the WCC and the European development agencies working on advocacy on the Palestinian Question.

    2.13 WCC/IR facilitated the participation of Central Committee member Rev. Hector Mendez and MECC/DSPR director Dr. Bernard Sabella to meetings organised by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. These were the UN Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People held in Vienna in February 2001, and the UN Latin American and Carribbean Meeting on the Question of Palestine held in Cuba in June 2001. IR staff also attended the UN International Meeting on the Question of Palestine - 'The Road to Israeli-Palestinian Peace', taking place in Madrid July 2001. The meetings brought together high level governmental, intergovernmental personalities, academics as well representatives of non-governmental bodies working on Palestine. The participants discussed how to promote the rights of the Palestinian people and ways to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

    2.14.12 In addition WCC IR/PCR facilitated the participation of key Palestinian and Israeli human rights advocates at the preparatory process of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and has included three Palestinians a member of the CCIA from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and representatives of the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran churches of Jerusalem in the WCC delegation attending the world conference in Durban, South Africa at the end of August, highlighting the aspects of discrimination against Palestinians based on descent and ethnic origin.

    2.15 Action for Churches Together - ACT International: Since the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising ACT has issued two appeals for emergency relief to the victims of conflict. The first, which was launched in October 2000, received a very positive response and raised 537,061 USD and surpassed its initial target. The appeal was closed in March 2001 and all its funds were distributed through three main beneficiaries for implementation: MECC/DSPR, International Orthodox Christian Charities - IOCC and LWF, Jerusalem. The funds for LWF were used for the Victoria Augusta Hospital, with emphasis on emergency operations for civilians and mobile village health clinics. In the cases of MECC/DSPR and IOCC the funds were used for emergency distribution of food and non-food items and medicines, particularly for vulnerable sections of society. In all three cases aid reached victims in the West Bank as well as Gaza, including the very remote locations and villages. The second ACT appeal, which is still in progress, was issued in March 2001 with a target of 475,177 USD. So far 31% of the target sum has been raised and the implementation agencies are the same as for the first appeal.

    Response by WCC member churches and ecumenical partners

    3.11 As a response to the increased direct violence and the breakdown of the negotiations between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the WCC has been informed of a series of actions by member churches and ecumenical partners, mainly in North America and Western Europe. These have been in the form of pastoral letters to the churches in the Holy Land, public statements, letters to governments, humanitarian assistance, solidarity visits to the region and appeals. They come from churches in the England, Scotland, France, Norway, Sweden, Canada and the USA in addition to Russia. They also include Christian World Communions, namely the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), ecumenical organizations like YWCA and YMCA, regional or national councils from Australia, Canada, Middle East, Sweden, Britain and Ireland and the Catholic Peace movement, Pax Christi International. The WCC International Affairs, Peace & Human Security team has compiled all documents sent to its offices for wider circulation and made them available on its website. It is important to note that there may be more such actions by WCC member churches. WCC has requested all member churches to keep its International Affairs, Peace & Human Security team in Geneva informed of all initiatives, which is constantly updating this compilation. ( ref. Church and Ecumenical Statements, Letters and Appeals since the Outbreak of the Second Palestinian Uprising, International Affairs, Peace & Human Security/WCC )

    3.12 Of particular interest are the concrete long-term advocacy initiatives that need further attention, namely the US churches nation-wide monthly prayer vigil coordinated by the Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs (LOGA) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and the Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) as well as the newly established nation-wide ecumenical coalition to end Israeli military occupation, which includes components of public awareness, campaigning and international ecumenical presence in the OT itself. The Churches in the USA were the first to take a delegation to the region in December 2000 as a sign of their solidarity and support. Since then they have organized a number of collective meetings, where WCC International Affairs, Peace & Human Security staff was also invited, including a Mini-Summit on Palestine to coordinate their efforts and plan ahead, and sent a high-level delegation to meet with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and another to the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors in DC.

    3.13 In Western Europe, a number of European Protestant Agencies, from the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and the UK have been formulating a joint programme of action, increasing their role in advocacy as a long term strategy. They define their understanding of advocacy as "promoting and representing the needs, interests, rights and participation of the poor in decision-making at every level - locally, nationally and globally - to key audiences at every level, among governments, the corporate sector and civil society..." Their strategy aims at three levels; mainly EU decision makers, national level in Europe and enhancing advocacy among the Palestinian civil society. In addition, as a concrete response to the present uprising, the Aprodev agencies are considering support for a joint Palestinian- European campaign initiated by Dutch church NGOs called "Lifeline Palestine" focusing "on protection and promotion of Palestinian rights and to provide a lifeline for Palestinians in the Middle East"- with a four-fold aim:

  • Provide International Protection - a human shield - for Palestinians through the deployment of international volunteers.
  • Information and Awareness building in Europe and elsewhere Fundraising drives to involve the wider public in Europe
  • Public actions and local campaigns involving wider public in Europe

    3.14 The Church of Sweden, in cooperation with the Olof Palme International Center, Caritas and Diakonia initiated an appeal; "Yes to Peace and International Law - Stop the Violence in the Middle East". The appeal which was launched during the period of Advent, calls the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to stop the spiraling violence; allow for medical aid to reach the victims of violence; respect human rights; follow international law and re-start the peace talks. This appeal is combined with an awareness-building and fundraising drive in Sweden, supporting emergency, rehabilitation and reconciliation efforts on the ground.

    3.15 The Danish churches have been the only WCC member church to address the WCC with a concrete proposal as a result of their visit so far. Following their ecumenical delegation visit to Israel/Palestine, the churches in Denmark wrote to the WCC General Secretary, informing the WCC of their follow-up actions, which included information sharing, lobbying the Danish government, including Danish EU parliament members. Since then they have requested the WCC to consider establishing an ecumenical presence with the churches in Palestine /Israel as a sign of solidarity. In addition they have offered their willingness to help the WCC establish this observation and solidarity presence with the Palestinian Christians. The Church of Norway has also endorsed this request.

    3.16 In France , CIMADE participated on a European humanitarian mission funded by the Belgian government , called " A Plane for Gaza". It has been actively lobbying the French government to suspend the EU-Israel Economic Agreement and called for the establishment of an intervention force in Palestine.

    3.17 Responding to the appeal by the WCC to lobby the EU members with regards to their position at the 57th Session of the UN CHR, churches in Norway and Germany sent letters to their governments strengthening the WCC advocacy efforts. The Church of Sweden is facilitating meetings for the WCC with key officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the role of the EU and Sweden in bringing the two parties back to the negotiating table.

    In addition the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) responded to the same call by facilitating a region-wide awareness building exercise through publicizing the WCC advocacy alert and position in the press, which has been very valuable in the perception the region has with regards to churches outside the Middle East and the WCC in particular.

    3.18 Roman Catholic Church: There has not been a collective WCC and Vatican response to the crisis in the region. During the UN CHR WCC staff was in touch with the Apostolic delegation to the UN in Geneva, who expressed appreciation to WCC in its role to speak out against human rights violations in the OPT and Israel and agreed to meet together after the Commission to discuss follow up and common concerns.

    B. United Nations Commission on Human Rights

    1.0 The Human Rights Inquiry Commission

    1.1 The Human Rights Inquiry Commission, (the Commission) established by the UNCHR 5th Special Session on October 19th, with the mandate to investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT) after 28 September 2000 and to provide the UNCHR with its conclusions and recommendations at its 57th Session, visited the OPT and Israel from 10 - 18 February 2001. The government of Israel made it clear from the outset that they would not cooperate with the Commission and despite repeated requests it maintained a policy of non-cooperation, however it did not obstruct its work in any way.

    1.2 In its conclusions and recommendations, the Commission states their understanding of the tragic history of the Palestinian people and the people of Israel, and its psychological legacy. Their recommendations divided into four sections . The first three are aimed at discouraging the persistence of recent violations of human rights. The first seeks to address the root causes that need to be resolutely addressed and resolved. The second part lists safeguards and procedures that need to be observed while negotiations aimed at a comprehensive, just and durable peace are pursued in good faith. The third part presents a series of measures which can be taken immediately to deter further violence and to end the destruction of lives, property and livelihoods. The fourth part is more ambitious, recommending steps for establishing a climate conducive to the emergence over time of a just and durable peace for the peoples of Israel and Palestine. (for a complete report of the Commission see CCIA/WCC dossier of the UNCHR, May 2001)

    2.0 The 57th Session of the Commission on Human Rights

    2.1 The 57th Session of the UNCHR had before it the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on her visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, Egypt and Jordan from 8 to 16 November 2000 which concluded, among others, that every effort should be made to explore the feasibility of establishing an international monitoring presence in the occupied territories; that a durable peace requires a framework conforming to the requirements of international human rights and humanitarian law; and that it would be appropriate for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to assume their responsibility under the Article 1 of the Convention.

    2.2 The Session was also presented with an update to the mission report by the Commission's Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the OPT. The update indicated the significant worsening and systematic of human rights violations particularly with regards to extra-judicial executions, rights to housing and property, the right to food, torture, detentions and press freedom. The Special Rapporteur also noted a distinct Israeli strategy to restrict the Palestinian economy, the severe territorial fragmentation of the territories as well as the high risk of collapse of the Palestinian health system. In its conclusion the report re-emphasises the importance and urgency of international protection for the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.

    2.3 On April 6 and 18,the UNCHR voted on two resolutions related to the OPT and one on Israeli settlements, reaffirming the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including their right to establish their sovereign and independent Palestinian State,( E/CN.4/RES/2001/2); welcoming the recommendations of the inquiry commission and requesting the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the OPT to follow up on those recommendations and to submit reports to the General Assembly. It also called on the relevant UN organs urgently to consider the best ways to provide the necessary international protection for the Palestinian people until the cessation of the Israeli occupation of its territories, (E/CN.4/RES/2001/7).

    2.4 Resolution E/CN.4/RES/2001/8 on the Israeli settlements, expressed grave concern at the continuing Israel settlement activities, including the expansion of the settlements, the installation of settlers in the OT, the expropriation of land, the demolition of houses, the confiscation of property, the expulsion of Palestinians and the construction of bypass roads, which change the physical character and demographic composition of the OT, including East Jerusalem, since all these actions are illegal and constitute a violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and are a major obstacle to peace. It went on to call the government of Israel to take concrete actions to fulfil its obligations and cease completely its policy of expanding the settlements and related activities in the OT.

    3. UN Security Council

    UN Security Council debates on Observer Force to Protect Palestinian Civilians

    At the end of March 2001, the UN Security Council held a debate for the second time in two months on an observer force to protect Palestinian civilians. However, a draft resolution sponsored by the Non-Alligned Movement caucus of the Council (Bangladesh, Colombia, Jamaica, Mali, Mauritius, Singapore and Tunisia) which contained a provision stating the readiness to set up an appropriate mechanism to protect Palestinian civilians, including through the establishment of a United Nations observer force, was vetoed by the USA. The draft received nine votes in favour (sponsors, China, Russian Federation) and one against (United States), with four abstentions (France, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom). The Ukraine did not participate in the vote.

    4. Recent Diplomatic Initiatives

    1. Update on Efforts to Reconvene the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention

    Further to the request last year by the League of Arab States in Geneva to reconvene the 'Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention' on measures to enforce the Convention in the occupied Palestinian Territories, and following an October 2000 UN General Assembly resolution inviting the Swiss government to 'consult on developments in the humanitarian situation in the field' with the aim of ensuring respect for the Convention, Switzerland has been in consultation on the matter with the High Contracting Parties since the end of 2000. In the summary report of the replies which the Swiss government has received in response to questions regarding the possibility and objectives of such a meeting, it is indicated that a 'great number' of states support the reconvening of the conference. It is also reported that some states have supported the reconvening but expressed reservations with regards to its timing while a small number have expressed opposition. Unofficial reports indicate that the latter group, includes the USA, Israel, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Czech Republic. The Swiss government will be continuing its consultations.

    2. The Jordanian Egyptian Proposal

    This April 2001 initiative involves recommendations to diffuse the current crisis, to be followed by confidence building measures and an eventual resumption of the negotiating process. Firstly, it proposes the implementation of the understandings reached at the Sharm El-Sheikh Summit of October 2000 and for both parties to undertake concrete steps to end the confrontation and restore calm. It further proposes the ending of the military, financial and economic siege and the blockade on the free movement of supplies imposed on the Palestinian Territories. It also calls for Israeli military withdrawal from around Palestinian cities and villages and refugee camps to their location prior to October 2000. Secondly, by way of confidence building measures, the plan suggests the resumption of implementation of all articles of the Sharm El-Sheikh memorandum of September 1999. It also proposes the mutual implementation of all security commitments and a total and immediate freeze on Israeli settlement activities. Thirdly, and in conjunction with the above, it suggests the resumption of work on all items of the agenda for the Final Status negotiations including Jerusalem, Refugees, Borders, Settlements, Security and Water with the aim of implementing UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and preserving and developing the progress achieved from November 1999 up to the Camp David Summit and the Taba round of negotiations. Fourthly, it provides for the sponsors of the peace process, including the EU, Jordan, Egypt and the UN Secreatry General to monitor the implementation and progress.

    3. The Mitchell Report

    In May 2001 the Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee under the Chairmanship of US Senator George Mitchell released its inquiry report on the eight months of Israeli-Palestinian violence. The report urges Israel and the Palestinians to 'reaffirm their commitment to existing agreements' and call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. More specifically it calls upon Palestinians to crack down on terrorism and for Israel to freeze all new construction of settlements. The Palestinian Authorities have welcomed the report with no reservations and called upon the US administration to embrace it as a basis for the resumption of peace negotiations. Israel has accepted the report but has said it will not halt construction of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. On his side US Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed the recommendations. The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan welcomed the Mitchell report and added that the full implementation of its recommendations could build a bridge back to negotiations. The European Union has also called for a resumption of negotiations based on the Mitchell recommendations.

    4. The Tenet Workplan

    CIA chief George Tenet held negotiations with both parties and presented them with a Security Implementation Workplan on June 10th, based on the Mitchell recommendations. The outline of the plan provides for the immediate resumption of security cooperation, measures from both sides to enforce strict adherence to the declared ceasefire, the exchange of information on terrorist threats, moves from both sides to 'aggressively' prevent groups from using their respective areas to carry out acts of violence and, lastly, the forging of a schedule to implement the complete redeployment of IDF forces to positions held prior to 28 September 2001.

    Israel welcomed the plan on the condition that the Palestinian Authority completely stop the violence, including the stone-throwing, and fully implement all other elements of the plan. Only once this has happened is Israel willing to fulfil its obligations under the plan which also include ending the closures and freezing settlement construction. The Palestinians have expressed reservations about the plan and requested definitive dates for the Israeli obligations under its framework. They appear to have agreed to the gathering of illegal weapons, the halting of mortar attacks and the curbing of incitement to violence in the media but not to the demand to arrest Islamic militants. Nonetheless, both sides have accepted the plan and a declared 'ceasefire' has been in force since June 13th. Despite this 8 people from both sides have lost their lives since.

    5. UN Secretary General's visit to the region

    On June 17th UN Secretary General Kofi Annan completed a six-day tour of the Middle East, during which he had meetings with leaders from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, regarding the Israeli-Palestinian situation. In statements during the visits, Mr. Annan repeated that the Mitchell recommendations offer a possible route back to political negotiations and said that there was now a real international alliance for peace with the US, the EU, the Russian Federation, the Arab leaders and the UN all pushing for full implementation of the plan. He warned, however, that without a return to such negotiations the current ceasefire will not last and added that the ceasefire in itself is not the end of the road but an important element. In one of his meetings the Secretary General also indicated that the Mitchell plan is not replacing UN resolutions on which a settlement will have to be based but acts as an interim step back to negotiations. During his last stop in Israel Mr. Annan also proposed a three-way meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres but the idea was then rejected by the Israeli Prime Minister.

    5. World Council of Churches Proposal for an International Ecumenical Response

    1.11 Based on the above mentioned background, requests of WCC member churches and ecumenical partners, including those in Jerusalem, as well as consultations with members of the Inquiry Commission, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mrs. Mary Robinson and the Jerusalem church leaders, the WCC General Secretary has decided to convene an international ecumenical consultation on August 6 and 7th in Geneva "to strengthen a broad international ecumenical support for a comprehensive peace based on justice and security" for the Palestinian and Israeli people. ( WCC Central Committee Recommendation of 5.2.01 )

    1.12 The consultation is meant to bring together all key ecumenical initiatives/actors working for peace in the Middle East, with members of the Inquiry Commission, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967, the office of the High Commissioner, the Churches of Jerusalem, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, key Palestinian and Israeli human rights and peace advocates with the following objectives:

  • To provide a space for sharing, consultation and joint planning and strategizing;
  • To facilitate better coordination and cooperation in the future.

    In particular the consultation would try to:

  • Respond to the requests of WCC member churches to facilitate an international presence and non-violent resistance , advocacy/campaigns/ vigils to end the occupation;
  • Consider practical ways of following up on the recommendations of the Inquiry Commission;
  • Develop an international ecumenical Plan of Action and Strategy, which operates on all levels, including international, regional and national;
  • Consider the creation of an International Ecumenical Platform to end violence, occupation and all forms of discrimination in Palestine, coordinated by the WCC in the context of the Decade to Overcome Violence

    1.13 Preparatory Process
    From June 27-30, a WCC delegation on behalf of the WCC General Secretary will meet with the Patriarchs and Heads of Christian Communities in Jerusalem, as well as key local clergy and laity, church-related and ecumenical organisations including Israeli and Palestinian human rights and peace activists, to assess the situation and prepare for the International Ecumenical Consultation in August.

    In addition members of the delegation will meet in Geneva a day prior to the visit for a joint briefing. The report of the delegation will be presented to the WCC General Secretary in July and be made available for further discussion at the August 6-7 consultation.

    Salpy Eskidjian
    Programme Executive
    International Affairs, Peace & Human Security
    22 June 2001

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