The Anglican Bishop of Southwark, and Catholic Bishop of Clifton have written to the British government to reinforce the calls of Christian leaders in the Holy Land for the international community to help end the human rights violations and unjustifiable violence of recent days which harms all people, and which will have long lasting implications for the region.
Bishop Christopher Chessun and Bishop Declan Lang, who are regular visitors to the region, including to Gaza, highlighted how the planned evictions of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and the violations of the right to pray at Al Aqsa Mosque were significant catalysts to the crisis. The continued blockade of Gaza has compounded instability and suffering, propagating violence.
Mindful that local Church leaders have been unequivocally clear that lasting peace requires justice, the bishops note that "while the priority must be stopping further bloodshed in the coming days, these underlying factors cannot be ignored."
To this end the Bishops write that "unless the international community is willing to adopt a rights-based approach to its peace-making, Israel's control of the occupied territories will become ever more entrenched, Palestinian rights further encroached upon and outbreaks of fighting increasingly likely. Israel's security cannot be based on the permanent inequality and disenfranchisement of Palestinians."
Bishop Lang and Bishop Chessun are part of an international delegation that, in non-Covid times, makes an annual pilgrimage to the Holy Land to support the region's local Christian communities and to promote dialogue and peace. Called the Holy Land Co-ordination, it focuses on the three 'P's of Prayer, Pilgrimage and Persuasion.