The global church movement has long opposed Israeli occupation in the West Bank. To rally millions of followers against illegal colonies is a strong moral challenge to Israel. This is therefore good news:
The World Council of Churches on Wednesday called on Israel to cease and dismantle its settlements in the occupied territories.
Passed on the last day of the WCC Central Committee meeting, the “Statement on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” encouraged an international boycott of products and services from settlements. It also urged the Israeli government to commit to non-violence and peace negotiations.
“[While] Israel’s own right to exist in security evokes sympathy and solidarity around the world,” states the Central Committee, WCC’s main decision-making body, “its policies of expansion and annexation generate dismay or hostility.”
There is a clear distinction, the committee maintains, “between the legitimate interests of the state of Israel and its illegal settlements.”
The statement comes exactly a week after the group’s outgoing general secretary called Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territories “a sin against God.” The Rev. Samuel Kobia had urged the central committee to also make that declaration official.
Naturally, the Zionist lobby is outraged. How dare anybody criticise our beloved occupation? The American Jewish Committee defends the settlements, of course:
“Rev. Kobia parrots the same hypocritical statements regarding Israel that the WCC regularly issues, ignoring the root causes of Israel’s presence in the West Bank,” said Rabbi David Rosen, AJC’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs.
“Rev. Kobia willfully ignores the violent rejection of Israel’s very existence that is at the root of the conflict and makes no mention of the terrorism and incitement that has prevented the realization of the aspiration of the vast majority of Israelis, as well as of most Palestinians, to live in peace based on a two-state solution,” said Rosen.