The Anglican Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Right Revd Peter Price, says civil society is the key to 'unlocking peace' in Israel/Palestine. He made the comments in a debate in the House of Lords after his recent trip to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Bishop Peter said: "Civil society is key to unlocking peace, and peace is the prize that all must seek for the welfare of generations of children growing up against the backdrop of uncertainty and fear."
Bishop Peter was part of a delegation led by Christian Aid, which travelled to the region with the object of encouraging Israeli and Palestinian partners in the vital task of peace promotion. During the eight day trip, Bishop Peter along with the Bishop of Worcester, met with a number of Christian Aid partners in the region, including B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories and the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC).
Speaking in the House of Lords, Bishop Peter spoke of his hope for a lasting resolution: "The recent ceasefire between Israel and Gaza offers hope for some measure of peace. As has been said, the forthcoming visit by President Obama offers possibilities of non-violent approaches to conflict resolution, not just between Israelis and Palestinians but for the region as a whole. What is hopeful is an increasing sense among the young that this situation cannot last forever."
Peter Price became Bishop of Bath & Wells in 2002 and a member of the House of Lords in 2008 where he has taken particular interest in international aid and foreign affairs. For many years Bishop Peter has been active in issues of reconciliation, contributing to peace-making in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Zimbabwe.
Speaking about his recent trip to the region, Bishop Peter says: "I was particularly impressed and moved by being in the presence of a dozen or so 10 year-old Palestinian girls attending a post-conflict trauma group. Through pictures, writing and dialogue they articulated their dreams about the future. I listened as one after another spoke of their desire to be a doctor, a lawyer or a teacher; and watched, saddened, as some could only articulate their pain through dark drawings. I found myself thinking, 'How beautiful you are. Where can you be safe? To whom do you run when you are scared and confused? What kind of humanity leaves behind a child - any child - unable to hold on to its future?' I am not seeking to make a partisan point here but a humanitarian one. Unless we can see in the eyes of the other the same human identity that is in ourselves, we risk only demonising the other."
Bishop Peter Price, will speak about some of his experiences visiting Israel, the West Bank and Gaza at an evening of prayer and meditation in the Lady Chapel at Wells Cathedral on Tuesday 26 February at 6.45pm. His talk will be made alongside a photography exhibition of work by young people in the Gaza strip involved in campaigning against child labour.
The exhibition is by Christian Aid and runs to 3 March. Places for the talk and exhibition are limited, so those wishing to attend should contact Christian Aid's Thornbury office on 01454 415923 or email email@example.com