Appeal from Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem

 The Cycle of Violence Must Stop: Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness (Isaiah 1:27) The Palestinian-Israeli conflict holds centre stage again as escalating violence persists, moving from retaliation to counter retaliation. We continue to believe that the root cause of all this conflict, pain and suffering is the Israeli occupation and reoccupation of Palestinian Lands. However, in no way can we justify violence as a means towards an end. Both communities have been predestined to co-exist side by side for thousands of years. Neither party can continue to behave in a manner that would endanger the rights of the other party. Only life with dignity, and life with security, promote building of trust and making of peace. Lands and territories, especially those described as holy, are not to be worshipped as if sacred. Human life is sacred. All people are created in the image of God; Arab and Jew, Palestinian and Israeli. All are loved by the one God who created them. Equally important is the fact that the situation on the ground grows worse for Palestinians each day. There are continuing hardships, constraining realities and measures that make it humanly impossible to live with. The repeated incursions into cities, the detention of thousands without charges, the attempts to neutralize or do away with the leadership, the continued assassinations are also to be condemned. It is not surprising that the Israeli occupation has been described as a tree on which grows a fruit known as suicide bombers. To put an end to its fruit we must put an end to the entire tree. Sharon promised Israelis that he would guarantee security within 100 days. Who is responsible, who is accountable for the lives of the many lost on both sides since the end of those 100 days? The late Rabin realized that no nation could control another with the power of the gun. He walked the path of peace and he had the courage to negotiate with the so-called enemy, Arafat. The so-called enemy continues to refer to the late Rabin as 'my partner'. Peace and reconciliation happen between past enemies. For people to continue to busy themselves reconciling parties that are in love is a waste of time. For parties to continue to believe that reconciliation may be accomplished with remote control is not wise. The Arab Nation, in its last Arab Summit in Beirut, unanimously resolved to make peace with Israel, provided that Israel comply with United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338. Rather than welcome this unprecedented gesture from all Arab States, Israel pushed its way into the West Bank with tanks, Apache helicopters and F16's, killing hundreds, injuring thousands and leaving many homeless. The international community should be held accountable for their double standards, and for killing the hopes of millions in this part of the world. Rather than becoming firmer in their commitment to implement their own resolutions, they allow the continuing deterioration; to the point that life has become so worthless to some that they cause greater pain to others. The United Nations Resolutions make it clear that both parties have the right to live within independent and secure states, side by side. Where are we from this? Where the politicians have failed, people of faith may succeed. Again, I am proposing that key figures in the Church worldwide meet with key figures of the Jewish and Muslim faith, with the objective of impressing the political leaders to come to terms with the reality of the situation, namely the need for Palestinians to be liberated from occupation and enjoy an independent state, and for both states, Palestine and Israel, to exist within secure and mutually recognized borders, remembering that the best of secure borders are reconciled neighbours. We appeal to all for collective common sense. We call on the United Nations to enforce its resolutions on both parties, and to do this both parties must be immediately invited to negotiations. That is why we call upon those leading the world, people of faith and people in politics to come to Jerusalem and make peace here. For once peace comes to Jerusalem; peace will come to the whole world. To refuse to struggle against the evil and the injustices of our world is to surrender our humanity; to struggle against the evil with the weapons of the evil doer is to enter into your humanity; to struggle against evil, the injustices, and oppression with the weapons of God is to enter your divinity. (Mahatma Gandhi) Please continue to keep all the people of the Land of the Holy One in your prayers. Know that this comes with my prayers and best wishes. In Christ, + The Rt. Rev. Riah Abu El-Assal Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem

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