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LETTER ON THE PALESTINIAN SITUATION AND PEACE WITH JUSTICE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
As members of the faculty of Pacific School of Religion, we wish to express our deep concem about the current violence in Israel/Palestine. We are alarmed at the present situation resulting from the continued occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza by the state of Israel, more than seven years after the Oslo process began, and 33 years after the occupation took place. The United Nations, in Resolution 242, noted the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force." In recent years, the United States government has insisted on taking a unilateral role, controlling the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis and pushing away the United Nations which called for the creation of the two states on November 29, 1947. The U.S. has moved farther and farther from international law and U.N. resolutions which should govern the questions of statehood, definition of borders, water and other resources, settlements, return of refugees and the status of Jerusalem.
The U.S. government has frequently weakened or vetoed U.N. objections to Israel‘s human rights abuses of the Palestinian people-abuses such as home demolitions, land confiscations, arbitrary arrest and torture. We are concerned, too, that the U.S. and many other governments which are signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) which established protection for civilian population under belligerent occupation, have not intervened to make these provisions "prevail," as they are obligated to do under Article 1. lf there is no pathway to protect the civilian population under occupation, no response to the findings of the many human rights organizations, and no fair peace process based on international law and U.N. resolutions, then we fear that violence is bound to continue to erupt and engulf the whole region.
We are convinced that the current framework of "peace negotiations" can only lead to further injustice and violence resulting from the intolerable conditions into which the Palestinian people have been locked in the West Bank and Gaza. As a people of faith, we call for Jerusalem to be recognized as a homeland for two peoples and honored as a religious center for the three living faiths of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The small territories over which the Palestinian Authority has been given limited control under the Israeli occupying army, are in fact economically unsustainable. The result of this pattern of negotiation is a series of separate zones where the Palestinians have inadequate access to employment water, education and health, unable to move freely between these territories with each other and with East Jerusalem. Far from having any real independence, the Israeli army assumes the prerogative to intervene in them at any time with military force and to close them off from each other with a system of check points and closures. This has created an inhumane situation that should not be allowed to continue under the name of "peace."
We suggest the following guides for the development of a new framework for negotiations.
We call upon the community of Pacific School of Religion, the member schools of the Graduate Theologieal Union, and our partner church denominations to inform themselves about the actual situation in Israel/Palestine and to speak out in favor of a just peace.
Joseph D. Driskill
Kahl-Jin (Jeffrey) Kuan
Speed B. Leas
Lynn Nell Rhodes
Rosemary Radford Ruether
Benoni Reyes Silva-Netto
Mary A. Tolbert
Mary Donovan Turner
Randi J. Walker
Pacific School of Religion
November 10, 2000
Deutsche Muslim-Liga Bonn e.V. - 1422 / 2001