Preventing Annexation of the West Bank
Every year, when Israel commemorates the founding of the nation, the Palestinian people commemorate the Nakba, which in Arabic means “catastrophe.”
Over 70 years ago and in just a few weeks time, over 500 Palestinian villages were depopulated, and about 750,000 people made homeless. Neither that generation nor any of its descendants have been allowed to return to their homes or villages.
At the seventy-second anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, a catastrophic decision has been made by the new Israeli government, a coalition of the right-wing Likud party led by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the “centrist” Blue and White party led by Ganz.
A major agenda item of this new government, one encouraged by the current U.S. administration, is the annexation of over thirty percent of the West Bank — an area that is home to hundreds of Palestinian communities. Of course, thousands of acres of homes and land and resources that belong to Palestinians will be confiscated at the moment Israel declares its sovereignty over them.
As an Evangelical leader that was born and raised in this conflict-torn land, it grieves me deeply to see how many opportunities have been missed during my lifetime to achieve agreements that could lead to peace and justice for all in the Holy Land. It is also very painful to see how many Evangelical leaders take an oppositional stance towards any agreement leading to a just peace for both nations.
By Rev. Dr. Jack Sara
President, Bethlehem Bible College
(excerpted from a larger letter found here)
Churches For Middle East Peace Action Alert
Churches for Middle East Peace: Tell Congress to Say No to Annexation
With the announcement of an emergency national unity government last month, Israel is likely to proceed with a vote to annex as much as sixty percent of the West Bank as early as July 1. Annexation would have a devastating impact on the ground for Palestinians. Their social, economic and cultural ties would be broken up, and movement between Palestinian areas would become even more difficult than today. Any realistic opportunity for a state and a just resolution to the conflict would be taken away.
While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on April 22 that the decision to annex was Israel’s to make, the United States cannot be responsible for the continued disenfranchisement of Palestinian rights and for the continuation of the conflict. Instead of giving the greenlight to the confiscation of Palestinian land, the United States Government should help facilitate an end to the conflict that will result in full equality and human rights for Israelis and Palestinians.
At this link, urge Congress to act swiftly and take concrete legislative action to make clear the U.S. government will not fund or otherwise support annexation.
Note: This action alert was provided by our partners at Churches for Middle East Peace.//
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Please join us for a webinar on the Israeli treatment of Palestinian children during the Covid-19 pandemic. Join here://
The Dire Consequences of Israel’s “Coalition Government
Below, please find a message from the Board of Kairos Palestine regarding annexation.
April 30th, 2020
Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:23-24).
The board of Kairos Palestine raises an alarm regarding the consequences of the third failed Israeli election in less than a year. The resulting coalition entered on April 20, 2020, combines two of the most right-wing parties—Bennie Gantz’s Blue and White and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud—in a deal that directly threatens Palestinians’ freedom, health and human rights.
Described as an “emergency government” to address the impacts of COVID-19, and under the cover of a so-called “coronavirus cabinet,” the State of Israel is empowered to continue its policies of home demolitions, closures, arrests, child detention and settler violence.
• As a result of the political arrangement, Gantz gave up his campaign promise to amend Israel’s Nation-State Law which legalizes institutional discrimination in Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
• In the deal for a joint government, Gantz relinquished his commitment not to pursue annexation in the West Bank without international consensus, freeing Netanyahu to pursue his long-standing promise to annex substantial portions of the West Bank as early as July 1.
• While the “emergency government” may only take up legislation related to the corona virus, an exception was agreed upon to consider bills related to U.S. President Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century.
• According to international law, an occupier is mandated to see to the health and welfare of the occupied, but a lack of medical supplies, the complete blockade of Gaza, Israel’s control of the Palestinian economy, piracy and theft of Palestinian tax money and increased restrictions on movement put Palestinians at a greater risk of suffering from COVID-19.
For the past few years and especially during the administration of both Trump and Netanyahu the foundations of the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis have been sabotaged by the different policies and announcements that both administrations have unilaterally adopted. This annexation is only one of these moves.
While we see that the equation of land for peace have lost its credibility and now look impossible for a two states solution, we at KP are committed for our people and churches to continue to struggle for the values that make for peace. Equality and Justice are our beacon. Thus, we urge all churches to support these values in every means. We urge them to say no to injustice of any illegal political move and building for a future of equality on this land between all the peoples, no matter what the political framework it brings at the end. We struggle for democracy and the natural human rights in this land, that no people are under occupation or discrimination or siege. That people enjoy their self-determination without prejudice to their religious, national or ethnic origin. This land has been blessed by its multicultural, multi- faithful and multi- national identity. This is how it should look like in any solution.
In this struggle, Kairos Palestine calls on people of faith and all those of conscience around the world to:
• Plead with your elected representatives to hold the State of Israel accountable to international law and human rights;
• Demand that your governments do not recognize Israel’s annexations of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, that your governments express their disapproval of Israel’s further plans of annexation, and that your governments pressure Israel with concrete measures to comply with international law and UN resolutions. All know what is due to the Israelis, and what is due to the Palestinians. Clear decisions are already taken by the UN. So why further waiting to apply what is already decided? Just comply with what you have decided. Take concrete measures which compel Israel to comply with your own decisions.
• Protect Palestinians’—and all people’s—right to resist, including Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, until Israel complies with its obligations as an occupying power.
Our plea is rooted in what is described in the Kairos Palestine document as “the logic of love”—a concern for the life and future of both peoples with a firm hope for the day when both oppressor and oppressed create a new society for all the people of the land.
Board of Directors
“Kairos Palestine, the most extensive Palestinian Christian ecumenical non-violent movement, is based on Kairos Palestine document: A Moment of Truth, launched in 2009, affirming that the Palestinian Christians are part and parcel of the Palestinian nation, calling for peace to end all suffering in the Holy Land by laboring for justice, hope and love, embraced by the Christian community, signed by all historically recognized Palestinian Christian organizations, and endorsed by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem”.//
Reflection: What I Have Learned From Palestinians About The Pandemic
Generally speaking, Palestinians suffer economic poverty, but not necessarily poverty of
self, community, or Spirit. Every morning my friend Ameen sells breakfast bars, coffee and
tea, and cigarettes to Palestinians who possess those precious permits to work inside Israel.
Palestine had been on lockdown for two weeks when we video-chatted with him. Now, our
friend from the same ancient village as the prophet Amos (Tekoa), is out of work.
How ironic that now we in the U.S. are on lockdown just like the Palestinians. However, due
to the Israeli military occupation, Palestinians have considered themselves to be “on
lockdown” for decades now. “Call it a ‘quarantine’, a ‘shelter-in-place’, a ‘lockdown’ or a
‘curfew’, we Palestinians have experienced them all, though not at all voluntarily.” wrote
Ramzy Baroud, Palestinian journalist, in early April.
Here is what I’ve learned from Palestinians:
- Cherish family. Celebrate them and hold them close.
- Live purposefully whatever the circumstances.
- When you are suffering despair, talk to someone else in despair.
- When you are temporarily afraid, talk to someone who lives in constant fear.
I have often wondered how can they be so joyful—seemingly all of the time! And be so
welcoming, often of citizens of countries who are or support their oppressors?
This is what I have seen. Both Christian and Muslim Palestinians practice living in
recognition of the sovereignty and justice of God. That is good advice for us no matter what
the circumstances, but especially now. In that light, please hear what God has to say to us
Scripture: Isaiah 40:21-31
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.