Now more than ever our prayers are needed for the peace of Jerusalem. The violence that in recent weeks began in Jerusalem is spreading across Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Israelis are filled with fear, and Palestinians of good will are seeing their future disintegrate before their eyes.
What is needed to end this violence? The position of Presbyterians for Middle East Peace is that progress toward the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is essential. There is only one path to peace, and it is the two state solution. This has been the position of the PCUSA for decades and should remain the focal point of our peacemaking efforts. Political leaders on both sides, with help from the international community, must commit to this and demonstrate tangible progress to their respective peoples.
Clearly, the Oslo agreement has long lost its luster as a peacemaking possibility. But the idea of two states preceded Oslo and should not be abandoned now. At a recent hearing before a special study team authorized by the Presbyterian General Assembly to study the two state solution, one millennial testified, “Maybe you have given up on the two state solution. But we haven’t.” By “you,” the young woman clearly meant older generations who have been working for decades to create peace. It was a prophetic moment reflecting the hopes of younger generations.
The recent violence in Palestine and Israel does not give credence to the arguments of those who wish to abandon the two state solution. On the contrary, they demonstrate exactly why we need to double down on the efforts to create two states---one for Palestinians, one for the people of Israel.
It is also essential at times such as these that hope not be lost, and that support and encouragement is provided to Israelis and Palestinians working together for a peaceful future. The Alliance for Middle East Peace, representing over 80 organizations in Israel and Palestine committed to peaceful coexistence, put out a statement on how you can help. We hope your congregation will consider supporting these efforts and providing words of encouragement. It is only through a foundation of person-to-person contact and understanding that this conflict can be ended.
Finally, religion has played a central role in the current outbreak of violence and this must be understood and addressed. The catalyst has been tensions on what is known as “The Temple Mount”, a place sacred to both Muslims and Jews. For background on the Temple Mount and its connection to the current violence, we have prepared a set of FAQ’s on the issue. Click here for access.