Lutheran World Council Warns Unresolved Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Threatens Global Peace

   Press Release 17-2007

 Churches Called to Join Ecumenical Coalitions to End Occupation

LUND, Sweden/GENEVA, 26 March 2007(LWI) - The Council of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has "affirmed that the core problem in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which, if not solved, is a threat to peace not only in the Middle East but throughout the world."

The LWF governing body stated its position during its approval of recommendations from its Program Committee for International Affairs and Human Rights at the end of the 20-27 March meeting in Lund, Sweden. This year's Council meeting coincided with events to mark the 60th anniversary of the Federation in the city where it was established in 1947.

"We welcome the fact that a Palestinian government of national unity has been established, and stress the LWF Council's expectation that the new government will respect all previous agreements concerning or relevant to the search for peace in the region."

 "We call on the international community to co-operate with the new Palestinian government and to end the international economic blockade in order to restore the health, education and welfare situation of the Palestinian people and the infrastructure of the Territories," stated the 26 March Council action.

The LWF governing body called "upon the State of Israel to comply with international humanitarian law and United Nations' resolutions concerning the occupation of the Palestinian Territories." It called for an international conference to be convened to resolve the long-standing issues between the parties, such as the status of Jerusalem, the return of refugees, settlements, borders and water resources.

 The Council noted the planned ecumenical commemorations, under the leadership of the heads of the local churches in Jerusalem in June 2007 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

"We call for actions by the international community to end the illegal occupation and for the LWF member churches to join ecumenical coalitions for that purpose, such as the World Council of Churches' initiated international week of action to end the occupation 3-9 June 2007."

 "We welcome the initiative to create an inter-faith Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, as a sign of shared commitment to building mutual trust and understanding among the faith communities and their peoples, and to call for this Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land to work to build peace among the two nations and that it become a reference group for Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in any future negotiations."

The LWF Council commended to the LWF member churches "The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism" issued by the heads of churches in Jerusalem in August 2006.

 "We express deep concern about the continued emigration of Christians from Palestine and the entire Middle East, and call on the LWF member churches to pray on Maundy Thursday for Christians in the Middle East and for their continued presence and ministry in the region in accordance with the call from the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC).

The Council reiterated the LWF's continued support to its member church-the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land-in its struggle to be a witness for peace and justice in the region through its educational, ecumenical and interfaith activities." (548 words)

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An estimated 500 people including over 100 church leaders are attending this year's Council meeting, church leadership consultation and the LWF 60th anniversary celebrations. Also attending are officials from LWF partner organizations, invited guests, stewards, interpreters and translators, LWF staff and co-opted staff, accredited media and participants in the three-year LWF international training program for young communicators.

During the Council meeting, the LWF Office for Communication Services can be reached at mobile tel no. +46/76-276 1311.