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4 June 2020

27 Church Leaders Write to Congress opposing unilateral annexation of the Occupied West Bank 

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Churches for Middle East Peace’s (CMEP) Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, joined 26 church and Christian organizational leaders in a letter to members of Congress opposing the unilateral annexation of significant portions of the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to proceed with annexation of parts of Area C in the Occupied Palestinian territories as early as July 1. In the letter, the leaders call on “Congress to wield its power of the purse and not allow any United States funds provided to Israel to be used for the recognition, facilitation or support of annexation…” Annexation of occupied Palestinian land is in direct contravention to international law and would have a devastating impact on the prospect of reaching a just and lasting end to the conflict in Israel-Palestine. The full letter is copied below and can be found here.
 
CMEP's executive director Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon says, "As Christians, we cannot support unilateral annexation; because peace must be negotiated between the parties directly involved - Israelis and Palestinians. As Americans, we believe the U.S. must neither foot the bill for annexation, nor provide diplomatic cover for it.”

With just 27 days before the Israeli Government is likely to proceed with formal annexation of parts of the West Bank, it is important for people of faith to raise their voices in opposition to annexation. Visit CMEP’s Churches Against Annexation page to learn more about how you can speak out against annexation and in support of justice and peace for all in Israel-Palestine.


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June 02, 2020 

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6)

Dear Member of Congress:
We are writing to you as faith leaders who are deeply concerned by the announcement of Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel that annexation of West Bank land could begin as early as July of this year.  President Trump has endorsed annexation in his “Peace to Prosperity Proposal.” As recently as April, Secretary Pompeo has also greenlighted this announcement with his statement that annexation is an Israeli decision.

We are committed, as individuals, and as leaders of faith communions and organizations, to the achievement of a just peace in Israel/Palestine that respects and defends the human rights of all who live in that land we call Holy. Unilateral annexation of occupied Palestinian land by the State of Israel is not in the cause of a just peace; annexing thirty percent or more of the West Bank would entrench inequalities and abuses of Palestinians’ human rights for the foreseeable future.

We share the grave concern expressed by the Council of Patriarchs and Heads of the Holy Land Churches who in a statement dated May 7, called upon Israel to refrain from annexation, making clear that such a unilateral move “would bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process.” Formal annexation is an act of aggression, not a step for peace.

As of this writing, there is no evidence that President Trump and his administration will reverse course and reject annexation. Warning about the Administration’s current trajectory, Rev. Munther Isaac and Father Jamal Khader, Christian leaders in the West Bank, wrote in Haaretz in early May, “Let us be clear: implementing the Trump plan would bring catastrophic consequences for the prospects of a political solution between Israelis and Palestinians, and particularly for the fulfillment of the rights of the Palestinian people, including Palestinian Christians.”

We call on Congress to wield its power of the purse and not allow any United States funds provided to Israel to be used for the recognition, facilitation or support of annexation, or for denial of Palestinian rights and violation of international law, including continuing occupation. Respect for human rights, compliance with international law, and achievement of peace with justice is essential not only for the security and wellbeing of Palestinians, but for that of Israelis as well. Should Congress fail to oppose and create tangible consequences for annexation by the Israeli government, the United States will bear significant responsibility for the continued deprivation of Palestinian rights and for the continuation of the conflict.

The United States has a moral responsibility to promote human rights, justice and peace, both at home and abroad. We are now looking to our Congressional leaders to assure that our country acts courageously and makes clear that annexation undermines the rule of law and is morally unacceptable.

Sincerely,

Joyce Ajlouny
General Secretary 
American Friends Service Committee

Rev. Eddy Alemán
General Secretary
Reformed Church in America

Maurice Bloem
Executive in Charge
Church World Service

J Ron Byler
Executive Director
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Executive Director
Churches for Middle East Peace

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Rev. Paula Dempsey
Director of Partnership Relations 
Alliance of Baptists

Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

Rev. Elizabeth Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray
President 
Unitarian Universalist Association

Very Reverend James Gannon, ofm,
President
Franciscan Friars, English Speaking Conference

Susan Gunn
Director
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

The Rev. David Guthrie
President, Provincial Elders’ Conference
Moravian Church in America, Southern Province

Rev. Glen Guyton
Executive Director 
Mennonite Church USA

Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey
President
Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Dr. Nathan Hosler
Director, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
Church of the Brethren

Rev. Dr. Julia Brown Karimu
President, Division of Overseas Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth D. Miller
President, Provincial Elders’ Conference
Moravian Church in America, Northern Province

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (USA)

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

Diane Randall 
General Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Dr. Andrea Smith
Co-Founder and Board Member
Evangelicals 4 Justice

Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson
Associate General Minister, United Church of Christ
Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Colin P. Watson Sr
Acting Executive Director 
Christian Reformed Church in North America

Jim Winkler 
President and General Secretary, 
National Council of Churches

Archpriest Thomas Zain
Vicar General
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Johnny Zokovitch
Executive Director
Pax Christi USA

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of 29 national church communions and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical traditions that works to encourage US policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. CMEP works to mobilize US Christians to embrace a holistic perspective and to be advocates of equality, human rights, security, and justice for Israelis, Palestinians, and all people of the Middle East. 
 

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