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Stated Clerk condemns U.S. position on Israeli settlements in West Bank

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IPMN Condemns Unilateral Move on Israeli Settlements by the Trump Administration

IPMN large logo with websiteNovember 20, 2019 — On November 18, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States was reversing its position on the status of Israeli settlements and countermanding a 1978 State Department legal opinion that concluded Israeli settlements in the region were “inconsistent with international law.”

Let it first be said that the opinion of one particular U.S. administration cannot possibly overturn the stance of the international community on this highly contentious issue. Further, the 2016 United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 reaffirmed that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.” 

Additionally, according to the International Criminal Court (ICC), it is a war crime to settle civilians in occupied territory, as Israel has long been doing. Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the ICC states “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory’ as a war crime when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.”

We strongly agree with the statement of our denomination’s Washington Office of Public Witness that the actions of the Trump administration and their disregard for international law “are only likely to intensify the dispossession and oppression caused by the settlements and escalate an already tragic situation.”

This breach of international law and global accord is an affront to all who seek a just and peaceful resolution in Israel and Palestine. J-Street, a left-leaning pro-Israel advocacy group, points out that the Pompeo statement discards “decades of bipartisan US policy” and disregards “international law…trampling on the rights of Palestinians and helping the Israeli right-wing to destroy Israel’s future…”  Even the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel U.S. Lobby, is not taking a position on settlements

Cutting through the outrage, Palestinian human rights scholar Noura Erakat noted that "what we're seeing now is not a sharp reversal in U.S. foreign policy… but instead the culmination of it."  She explained that “for more than five decades, since 1967, all U.S. administrations have talked out of both sides of their mouth. On the one hand, they have condemned settlements as counterproductive to peace and as a contravention of international law, and, on the other hand, have provided Israel with the unequivocal diplomatic, military and financial aid in order to entrench their settlements.”

Her clarity on duplicitous U.S. policies is appreciated. For decades, our denomination has opposed violence of any kind in the region, as well as Israeli settlements inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories. And for decades, continuing General Assembly actions have expressed clear opposition to illegal Israeli settlements which create new facts on the ground by moving more and more Jewish settlers into the West Bank.

As far back as the 201st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1989, our denomination has been clear about what it takes to seek and achieve peace in Israel/Palestine. In a special report on Israel and Palestine, we urged “the United States government to work with [all] parties to disavow explicitly all... that threaten the livelihood, the existence, or the territorial integrity of any party, and cease actions based upon these statements.”

As for our investments and not profiting from injustice in Palestine, since 2014 our policy has been an “intention to undertake such investments in ways that do not contribute to the continuation of Israel’s occupation, annexation, or blockade of those areas, with specific attention to the illegal Israeli buildings, settlements, and barriers built on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.” 

In its landmark report “Breaking Down the Walls,” the 219th General Assembly (2010) included this warning statement: “The situation on the ground is changing rapidly. The rise of the extremist settler movement within Israel belies the ‘Israel as a nation for all of its citizens’ we so long to see. The ongoing land expropriation and settlement expansion, in East Jerusalem in particular, continues to undermine, and indeed, destroy the possibility for a just and secure peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.” Since then, settlement expansion has multiplied exponentially and now runs deep into the West Bank with over 700,000 Jewish settlers living on Palestinian lands.

There is a way out of the Israel/Palestine impasse. Palestinians are asking for full and equal rights and an end to the segregated system they have been forced to live in. Eliminating military law and dismantling the apartheid system of two sets of laws for two different peoples under the control of the same state will go a long way to bringing about equality and begin a process of healing and reconciliation. 

The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the PC(USA) encourages all Presbyterians and members of partner denominations to call upon the U.S. government to reverse this dangerous and unproductive course of action and return to a discourse and negotiations that seek peace rather than making unilateral pronouncements that will surely lead to continuing oppression, violence and war.


 

STATED CLERK OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

J. Herbert Nelson calls on President to work toward peace

Stated Clerk condemns U.S. position on Israeli settlements in West Bank

 

 

pcusa logoPresbyterian Church (USA) 
asks Congress to support HR 496 on the right to boycott

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has sent a letter to the House of Representatives today urging support for H.Res. 496. The resolution led by Reps. Ilhan Omar, John Lewis, and Rashida Tlaib, affirms Americans’ right to boycott.

As reported by Presbyterian News Service, the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director of the Office of Public Witness, issued an Action Alert on September 6th urging Presbyterians to support the right to boycott in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad.

Win Without War who also signed the letter as one of 40 organizations, stated today:  

"This resolution is the first measure of its kind recognizing the historical importance of boycotts in advancing human rights and justice both at home and abroad. From the economic boycotts of apartheid South Africa to the Montgomery Bus boycotts against racial segregation, boycotts are a time-honored tool of political expression and social change that Congress should be defending – rather than seeking to criminalize this constitutionally-protected exercise of political beliefs it does not agree with.

"This resolution is crucial especially now in the aftermath of the restrictions that were placed on Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar’s travel to Israel, due to their political views and support of a social movement utilizing the right to boycott.

"In this era of rising authoritarianism around the world, there is a global divide between those who believe in freedom and equality for all, and those who justify repression on racial and religious supremacy. At a time when political expression is under attack both at home and abroad, it is imperative that Congress stand on the side of justice by affirming the right to boycott unjust policies that undermine equality and dignity for all no matter where these injustices occur."


 

Background

Members of IPMN overtured the 223rd General Assembly in Saint Louis last summer in 2018 to approve language on the right to boycott. The overture,  "On Opposition to Congressional and State Anti-BDS Legislation", passed 50 - 2 in the Middle East Committee and was approved through the Consent Agenda in Plenary.

IPMN continues to follow its General Assembly mandate to educate Presbyterians and advocate for the rights of Palestinians. We will continue to push for justice and be a part of the pro-justice efforts that brought this language to become policy in our denomination in 2018:

  • Defend and advocate for the constitutional protection under the First Amendment for all United States citizens, religious and civic organizations, companies and corporations that exercise their freedoms of speech, association, and other civil rights to support measures of economic witness designed to bring those freedoms and rights to Palestinians and other persons living without full citizenship and under occupation.
  • Oppose specific U.S. legislation to suppress measures of economic witness (boycott, divestment, sanctions, or BDS policies and strategies such as “The Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” Senate Bill (S) 720 and House Resolution (H.R.) 1697, which seek to impose civil and criminal penalties for nonviolent BDS resistance against human rights violations in Israel and Palestine.

 

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IPMN Condemns Israel’s New Apartheid Law favoring Jewish Citizens

July 20, 2018 — It is with heavy hearts that the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recognizes that Israeli lawmakers this past week gave final approval to codifying inequality through new legislation, dubbed “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People.”  

In essence, this new law closes the door on every possibility our newly approved church policy recognizes for the assurance of equal rights for all citizens of Israel, regardless of their religion. Israel has now dropped the pretense of being a democracy and having equal rights for all its citizens.

At its General Assembly meeting in St. Louis, Missouri last month, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) overwhelmingly approved the overture “On Advocating for the Human Rights of All Citizens of Israel.” This measure, 1) Affirms the support of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 2) Directs the Office of the General Assembly to write to the United States President and Secretary of State urging them to use diplomatic tools to bring Israel into full compliance with the Universal Declaration; and 3) Advocates for the cessation of all actions that block equal access of all citizens in Israel’s legal system, citizenship privileges, income and employment, distribution of resources and social welfare, accessibility to land, educational resources, availability to health resources and political participation.

Israeli Palestine advocate Miko Peled, whose grandfather Avraham Katznelson signed Israel’s Proclamation of Independence, and whose father, General Mattityah Peled served in the Israeli military during the 1967 war, has stated that the “Knesset’s new Nation State Law codifies Israel as an Apartheid State.” Peled goes on to acknowledge that although Israel’s Declaration of Independence never uses the word democracy, it does say that Israel “will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants…” and “it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” Israel’s new law renders these proclamations moot.

Omar Barghouti, friend of the Israel Palestine Mission Network and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, also stated that with this new law, Israel has declared itself an apartheid state. Barghouti calls for other governments to hold Israel accountable, saying, “From now on, it will not just be legal to racially discriminate against the indigenous Palestinian citizens of the state, it will be constitutionally mandated and required. This should stir people, institutions and governments to take effective action to hold Israel accountable.” Barghouti concludes, “No Israeli far-right government, with all the blind support it receives from xenophobic and outright fascist forces in the United States and Europe, will ever extinguish our aspiration for freedom, justice and equality.”

Since its inception by General Assembly mandate in 2004, the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been striving for a “Just Peace” in Israel and Palestine. Our network has consistently embraced that cause by advocating for boycott of all Israeli settlement products, for divestment from companies that profit from non-peaceful pursuits in the occupied Palestinian Territories, and calling upon the United States government to apply economic sanctions towards the Israeli government until it complies with U.S. and international human rights law. IPMN has also consistently called for equal rights of Palestinian citizens in Israel and for basic human rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories.

Although some have sought to characterize our mandated work in advocacy and education as anti-Israel or antisemitic, we know better. Criticizing the policies of the political state of Israel is neither anti-Israel nor antisemitic . We are FOR human rights for ALL peoples, and that includes supporting intersectional justice partners such as Black Lives Matter, Native American rights groups, and justice groups for immigrants and refugees.

In accordance with our mandate, and because our denomination now has policies calling for justice for all Palestinians, we will continue our work and seek to fulfill our calling. Therefore we condemn Israel’s new Nation State Law, and respectfully call upon network members and partners as well as all Presbyterians and members of our partner churches, to continue to pray and strive for the human rights of all Palestinians in Israel, Gaza and the occupied Palestinian Territories, and in the Diaspora.  The IPMN will never shrink from this important work, no matter what laws may be passed by the Israeli government or the United States Congress that may try to castigate Palestine and its indigenous population. 

 


 
 
Sabeel Ecumenical Theology Center statement:
 

AUG 8, 2018 — Henry Siegman, a former National Director of the American Jewish Congress said, “Israel has crossed the threshold from ‘the only democracy in the Middle East to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.’”

We have always viewed Israel’s democracy with great skepticism, but now, its Nation-State law validates its apartheid status.

On Thursday, July 19, 2018 the Israeli Knesset passed... Read more.

 
 
 

Report on Petition Delivery at Israeli Embassy

#Nakba71

Washington - May 15, 2019 — On the 71st commemoration of the Nakba, the Catastrophe of Palestinian exile and ethnic cleansing, activists from around the greater Washington metro area gathered outside the Embassy of Israel. The multi-faith delegation of lay people and clergy was there to present the Kairos Palestine—Global Kairos for Justice international petition, and a call to freedom and human rights.

The Israeli embassy refused to take the delivery.

The petition to the government of Israel was signed by by over 3200 individuals and organizations from 51 countries. Today’s delivery was linked to other similar global events which simultaneously commemorated the Nakba in speeches, actions at government buildings, embassies and consulates, as well as conferences and marches.

The Washington delegation of human rights defenders were gathered with Palestinian flags, posters and signs, wearing Palestinian keffiyehs, and Palestinian clergy stoles. Many of those gathered were Palestinian Americans whose families were exiled at the creation of Israel in 1948 or in the years since. Others were from faith-based organizations including advocacy networks from many church denominations as well as members of FOSNA, (Friends of Sabeel North America), JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace), and other solidarity groups from wider justice struggles.

The group was met by embassy staff who, upon learning of the petition, shut and locked the gates to the compound, refusing to speak with the delegation or receive the petition. Instead, they called the Secret Service who responded by asking for the details of the action. The petition-delivery group stayed clear of the gates, remaining on public space on the sidewalk at the corner outside the Israeli embassy.

The Rev. Graylan Hagler called the group to silence, inviting all to become spiritually grounded in prayer, in witness, and in the continuing pursuit of freedom from oppression and occupation for Palestinians everywhere. He first invited Imam Ali Siddiqui from the local Muslim community to pray, followed by other prayers by a diverse group of Christian pastors as well as an Orthodox Jewish justice activist.

IMG 3195Praying needs singing to bring those words to action, so the petition pilgrims were led by Rev. Hagler in “Oh, Freedom,” the post-Civil War African-American freedom song often associated with the American Civil Rights Movement. Today’s group changed some of the lyrics to lift up the longing and determination of the Palestinian people to break the chains that enslave them to occupation and exile.

The group proceeded two by two to the gates of the Embassy of Israel where the petition was read aloud into the space of the Israeli diplomatic presence in our national capital. Rev. Hagler preached to those gathered at the gate, urging all to work for justice for all Palestinians, remembering our own government’s complicity in human rights violations by the state of Israel, as well as the complicity of the leaders of both nations.

Our struggle will continue until dignity, equality and freedom for Palestine is realized.

 

 

 

 

Some of the multi-faith Washington delegation
who attempted to deliver the Global Kairos for Justice Petition to the Israeli Embassy.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aida key

Palestine Refugees by Numbers

  • Palestinians are the largest and longest suffering group of refugees in the world. 

  • One in three refugees world wide is Palestinian. 

  • There are about 7.2 million Palestinian refugees worldwide. 

  • More than 4.3 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants displaced in 1948 are registered for humanitarian assistance with the United Nations. 

  • Another 1.7 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants, also displaced in 1948, are not registered with the UN.

  • About 355,000 Palestinians and their descendants are internally displaced i.e. inside present-day “Israel”. 

  • When the West Bank and Gaza Strip were occupied in 1967, the UN reported that approximately 200,000 Palestinians fled their homes. These 1967 refugees and their descendants today number about 834,000 persons. 

  • As a result of house demolition, revocation of residency rights and construction of illegal settlements on confiscated Palestinian owned-land, at least 57,000 Palestinians have become internally displaced in the occupied West Bank. This number includes 15,000 people so far displaced by the construction of Israel’s Annexation Wall. 

  • Such dispossession of the Palestinian population continues today.

 

Al AWDA LARGE WEB LOGOphoto: Entrance to Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, the key has the become a symbol of return.

source: al-awda.org

 

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