As disciples of Jesus Christ, who is the Prince of Peace, we cannot remain silent on the escalation of Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the subsequent injuries and loss of life.
We are aware that the recent crisis has been fuelled by a complexity of factors, both historic and more recent, themselves linked to conflict over the statehoods and nationhood of Israelis and Palestinians. However, at the fundamental level, decades of occupation of Palestinian territories remain at the heart of the issue (Middle East Council of Churches, 11 May 2021).
We call on Israel to end its occupation and reconsider its decision to annex parts of West Bank and the Jordan Valley which virtually obliterates a future of two states living side by side in peace and security. The planned evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem must cease.
While understanding the decades of pain and suffering among Palestinians, we still pray and encourage dialogue as a path to peace. Disproportionate response to violence will not bring about sustainable solution to the current impasse. Joining Pope Francis, we invite all people of good will to pray for Israel and Palestine so that the Holy Land “may be a place of encounter and not of violent clashes, a place of prayer and peace. Violence begets only violence.” (Pope Francis, 9 May 2021).
Our prayer is that, in Israel and Palestine, the spirit of the Lord will turn the hearts of stone into hearts of flesh so that there is a celebration of just peace in the Holy Land.
For more information, contact Bishop Victor Phalana, Chairperson of SACBC Justice and Peace Commission, 0824707151.