Ecumenical groups condemn annexation plan

Ecumenical groups condemn annexation plan

Israel’s proposed annexation of large swathes of the West Bank has received widespread condemnation from ecumenical groups.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to annex all West Bank settlements, applying Israeli sovereignty to them. He has not named a date when this would occur.

The World Council of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches, ACT Alliance, and Lutheran World Federation released a joint statement on the planned annexation in late June.

“Annexation of such territories is in direct violation of international law and goes against several international agreements, UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949,” the statement said.

“We urgently call on the international community to take immediate action to directly address this unilateral action.”

The statement acknowledged the crisis’ historical roots. “Peace can never be unilaterally imposed; or achieved by violent means,” the text reads. “We offer our solidarity and support with the understanding that the God of life calls us into actions of justice for all the oppressed.”

 “We call for a steadfast hope that inspires action rather than passivity,” the statement reads. “We resolve to continue working for a long lasting and true peace in the Holy Land.”

A statement from the Palestinian-Israel Ecumenical Network (PIEN) called the planned statement “an anathema to peace.” The statement said that the Australian Government needed, “not to remain silent but to pressure the Israeli Government to cease these latest land grabs and to comply with international law and UN resolutions.”

“It is time to defend the Palestinian peoples’ inalienable rights to their own homeland,” the PIEN statement said.

Most of the international community is opposed to the proposed annexation. This includes the Palestinian Authority, Israel’s neighbours, and other nations, as well as the United Nations and the European Union.

The Israeli government hold that Israel has historical rights to the area of the proposed annexation, which was once the heartland of biblical Israel. 

Israel took The West Bank from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War, but never included it within official borders. During the past 53 years, Israeli civilians have created extraterritorial communities, known as settlements.

The 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into Areas A, B and C. They placed Areas A and B, totalling 40% of the West Bank, under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and left Area C under Israeli military and civilian rule. Some 2.2 million Palestinians live in Areas A and B, while some 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C.

Read the full WCC statement from 29 June 2020 here.

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