Introduction by Zionism and Israel Information Center
This resolution concerning the Israeli security fence was adopted by the United Church of Christ General Synod in Atlanta. It is not openly anti-Zionist and reaffirms a commitment to a "two-state solution." It is not clear if it is the opinion of the council that the Israeli State must allow Return of the Palestinian refugees. While the resolution appears to have been adopted in good faith, the following should be noted
1. The resolution quotes the Sabeel Liberation Theology Center and Jeff Halper as authorities. Both these sources are opposed to the existence of Israel. The integrity of the resolution and the information upon which it is based must therefore be called into question, in the same way as we would question the integrity of a resolution concerning African Americans that quotes George Wallace and the KKK as authorities.
2. The resolution states, based on no authority, that the security fence violates UN Security Council Resolution 242. UN Security Council Resolution 242 calls for Israeli withdrawal following conclusion of a negotiated peace, to secure borders to be negotiated. No peace has been negotiated. There is no mention in that resolution of any prohibition of security measures in the interim, nor is there any mention of security barriers.
3. The resolution incorrectly states: "It [the wall] will result in Israel’s effective annexation of roughly half of the West Bank" Inasmuch as the security fence encroaches on approximately 7% of the territory of the West Bank, the claim of "effective" annexation of "roughly" half of the West Bank is groundless.
4. The resolution states:
The barrier violates multiple international conventions, agreements, and resolutions, including article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter (prohibiting the use of force to violate territorial integrity), the Fourth Geneva Convention (prohibiting the destruction of land or property and the practice of collective punishment), and both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economical, Social, and Cultural Rights (defining rights of movement, property, health, education, work, and food).
Since the territory in question is considered by the International Court of Justice to be "Occupied" and since the UCC accepts this ruling, the provision of the UN Charter concerning user of force to violate territorial integrity is irrelevant. Likewise, the occupying power has the right and the duty to preserve order in the territories it occupies.
5. The resolution states:
It is this encroachment and the resultant humanitarian crises that the Israeli Supreme Court addressed in its June 30, 2004 ruling, even as it found the motivation for the barrier, based on security concerns, justified.
The court directed the state of Israel to modify the route of the barrier in order to take account of human rights concerns. The route was modified to the satisfaction of the court. Therefore, the UCC must decide. If it accepts the criteria of the Israeli Supreme Court then it must consider that those criteria are now satisfied and the demands of security have been tempered by safeguards for human rights. If the UCC does not accept the criteria or the jurisdiction of the Israeli High Court, then why does it quote the court?
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More generally, the resolution ignores fact that Israel was subjected to a spate of suicide bombings and terror attacks. The stated goal of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations who were among those carrying out the attacks is the destruction of Israel, not ending the occupation. The barrier was undertaken with great reluctance to prevent these attacks and make possible a return to peace negotiations and normal life for Palestinians and Israelis. An even handed and constructive resolution would have taken note of the acts of terror, which the Church failed to condemn at any time during the four year period of violence, and call for an end to the terror as well as amelioration of the situation of the Palestinians. The main premise of the resolution is that terror is wholly the result of the occupation, and will cease when the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza are ended. That premise is historically unjustified. The resolution represents the entrapment of a respectable institution in a racist and genocidal campaign that openly states its intention of destroying Israel.
Note: The following resolution, approved by General Synod 25 in Atlanta, should not be considered “final” until the minutes of the General Synod have been reviewed and approved by the Executive Council in October.
For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. (Ephesians 2:14) A central tenet of our Christian faith is the possibility for reconciliation among peoples. This human reconciliation through God’s love was demonstrated by Jesus Christ, and reported to the people of Ephesus by Paul. We are called to be people of reconciliation and called to engage in the act of reconciliation. Barriers to reconciliation exist in many forms and in many places.
When barriers are constructed, hostility that exists becomes exacerbated. Differences between peoples can only be addressed through bringing them together, not by adding further divisions.
By breaking down walls that separate, we actively seek peace and reconciliation in the world in an attempt to follow Jesus’ example. In doing so, we seek a death to hostility.
In June 2002, the State of Israel began an ambitious construction. Construction of a separation barrier—also known as the “security fence” and as the “Wall”—commenced and continues to this day.
According to Israeli plans, the barrier will be over 400 miles (650 kilometers) in length, at a cost not less than $1.6 million per mile ($1 million per km), and will exceed $1 billion for the entire project. The main barrier takes on many forms, including 8-meter high cement walls, 3-meter high electric and barbed-wire fences, and a combination of the two. The infrastructure of the barrier that also includes a buffer zone on both sides, surveillance cameras, trenches, and observation posts compounds what Israeli human rights activist Jeff Halper calls the “matrix of control” of settlements, by-pass roads and checkpoints.
The barrier violates multiple international conventions, agreements, and resolutions, including article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter (prohibiting the use of force to violate territorial integrity), the Fourth Geneva Convention (prohibiting the destruction of land or property and the practice of collective punishment), and both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economical, Social, and Cultural Rights (defining rights of movement, property, health, education, work, and food). The barrier also is contrary to UN Security Council resolution 242 which calls for the “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent  conflict.”
The barrier encroaches into the occupied Palestinian territories from along the entire perimeter of the West Bank, frequently abutting or intersecting Palestinian villages, while leaving agricultural fields, shops, and family members on the opposite, Israeli-claimed side of the border. In places like Qalqilya, the barrier loops prominently into the West Bank, enveloping entire Palestinian villages and creating ghettos with a single, narrow checkpoint guarding the entrances to these villages. It will result in Israel’s effective annexation of roughly half of the West Bank, displacing and disconnecting Palestinians from their homes, families, neighbors, and fields. It is this encroachment and the resultant humanitarian crises that the Israeli Supreme Court addressed in its June 30, 2004 ruling, even as it found the motivation for the barrier, based on security concerns, justified.
In a more broad-reaching ruling on the barrier, the International Court of Justice ruled on the barrier’s legality in a July 9, 2004 verdict. In sum, the decision rendered the construction of the barrier contrary to international law, recommended that the State of Israel end its construction and dismantle existing segments and that Israel make reparations to those who have suffered loss as a result of the construction, and instructed the United Nations to pursue necessary means to address the illegality of the barrier. Both Israel and the U.S. disregarded this ruling and thereby dismissed the relevance of international law. The U.S. continues to provide more aid to Israel than to any other country in the world.
The impact of the visually, physically, psychologically and spiritually offensive barrier on the Palestinian people has been more devastating than abstract facts can convey. Homes have been demolished, water supplies have been cut off, fields have been razed, villages divided, and access to the other side has been cut off. Farmers have lost their fields or lost access to them.
Faith communities—including Palestinian Christians—have been denied access to houses of worship. Families have been split. According to UN estimates, 680,000 Palestinians (30% of the West Bank population) are directly affected. The Sabeel Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem reports that “Palestinians have been separated from their places of employment, their farmlands, hospitals, schools, places of worship and their families. In the first phase of the wall alone, 100,000 trees have been uprooted; 35,000 meters of irrigation networks have been destroyed; and 75% of teachers and students living in the construction areas have had difficulty arriving at school.” These effects further deteriorate the quality of life of the Palestinian population in the occupied territories.
WHEREASthe ongoing violence has created fear, whittled away trust; and both Israel and Palestine have been deeply wounded politically, economically, physically, spiritually, socially, and psychologically; and
WHEREASthe Israeli government, as part of its de facto policy of settlement and colonization, continues to construct the separation barrier, also known as the security fence and the wall, and plans to extend it to approximately 400 miles (650 kilometers) at a cost not less than $1.6 million per mile ($1 million per km), thereby rendering the internationally-endorsed Road Map for peace and other proposals for a negotiated two-state solution unachievable; and
WHEREASthe wall unilaterally changes an international border without direct negotiations between partners, effectively annexes nearly 50% of Palestinian West Bank land, and destroys the contiguity of Palestinian life and land, rendering a Palestinian state unviable; and
WHEREASthe barrier succeeds in confiscating Palestinian agricultural fields, water, and other natural resources, contributes to unemployment, and cuts populations off from such essentials of life as employment, education, health care, worship and family; and
WHEREASthe Israeli Supreme Court has questioned the legality of the path of the separation barrier on humanitarian bases and the International Court of Justice has ruled that the barrier is, ipso facto, illegal; and
WHEREASthe barrier has had devastating effects on the lives and livelihoods of Palestinians living in the occupied territories by destroying homes, fields, and mobility, severely obstructing health care, education, and even worship opportunities for Palestinians; and
WHEREAShistory demonstrates that walls build barriers and limit the opportunity for people in conflict to be in contact with each other and reconcile their differing points of view, and the U.S. has previously demanded that walls of separation be torn down;
THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVEDthat the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ, mindful of all previous General Synod resolutions and all previous board resolutions and statements relating to the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, specifically affirms the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, fully supporting the right of Israel to exist in peace with its neighbors and protect itself within secure and internationally recognized borders and at the same time asserting the same right to national sovereignty in a secure, recognized and viable state for Palestinians, who would control their borders; and
LET IT BE RESOLVEDthat the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls upon the Israeli government to cease the project to construct the barrier, tear down the segments that have already been constructed, and make reparations to those who have lost homes, fields, property, and/or lives and health due to the barrier and its effects as security for both peoples can best be achieved through an end to the occupation and efforts to encourage access and contact, rather than restricting and denying it; and
LET IT BE RESOLVEDthat the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ urges the U.S. government to persuade the Israeli government to abide by international law and agreements and withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories; and
LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ calls upon the U.S. government to engage actively, fully and fairly in a peace process that will lead to the peaceful coexistence of two states: Israel and a future Palestine; and
LET IT BE RESOLVEDthat the Twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ encourages its members at all settings of the United Church of Christ to engage in prayer, study, and dialogue about the barrier and to raise diligently with their governmental officials these concerns.
Funding for this action will be made in accordance with the overall mandates of the affected agencies and the funds available. Wider Church Ministries is responsible for developing the strategy and program designed to implement this resolution.
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