Statment on Violence from Churches for Middle East Peace
From: Corinne Whitlatch, CMEP Director

December 3, 2002

Churches for Middle East Peace condemns unequivocally the suicide bombings carried out in Israel over the weekend.  We mourn the many innocent lives lost and extend our condolences to family and friends of the victims.

We reject as inexcusable all such attacks against civilian targets, no matter who carries them out.  Those who bear responsibility for suicide bombings and other attacks on civilians must be taken into custody and tried for their crimes.

The urgent quest for an end to violence between Israelis and Palestinians also requires that leaders on both sides refrain from acts of force and retaliation, and restrain those under their command.  Neither victory nor security can be gained through military force or through guerilla terrorism.  Only a path of mutual respect, negotiations, and conformity to international law will lead to a just and lasting peace.

Churches for Middle East Peace reiterates what it wrote to Chairman Arafat in June, "These heinous acts of violence are counter productive to any hope for a just peace.  We understand the right of the Palestinian people to resist the Occupation, but implore you to emulate other great leaders who used nonviolent action to bring about change."  That letter, addressed also to Prime Minister Sharon, concludes:  "No good purpose is served by continuing this vicious cycle that dehumanizes your people as well as the other. We look to you both to take courageous steps forward to negotiations that can promptly establish a sovereign Palestine free from Occupation and an Israel at peace and security with her neighbors."

With due urgency, we urge the government of the United States to work with other nations to dispatch an international monitoring and observer force to the conflicted region as one immediate means of discouraging further violence.

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Churches for Middle East Peace is a coalition of the public policy offices of the American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service and Witness, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Mennonite Central Committee, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

Churches for Middle East Peace, 110 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002; Telephone: 202/546.8425     Fax 202/543-7532