A new Congress is now sworn in, and its legislative agenda is full. Foreign policy is an area often reserved for the Executive branch, but Israel/Palestine has been an area of historically unique bipartisan agreement. But there are new voices, willing to speak for justice, peace, and equality for all. Sadly, however, currently stated U.S. policy is working against such an outcome.
In a November 14 ecumenical statement, 16 U.S. Christian leaders outline developments in U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine since the beginning of the Trump Administration, noting their negative impact on Palestinians and the prospects for peace for Israel and Palestine. The statement was sent to all members of Congress and to the Trump administration, and sent again to the new Congress and the White House on Jan. 11.
These Christian leaders lament the current context saying, “Forty years ago, the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel were signed and 25 years ago, the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were signed. For many, these two events offered hope of movement towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israelis, Palestinians, and other neighboring countries. While we recognize these anniversaries, the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for most of the inhabitants is one of shattered hopes.”
The leaders note detrimental shifts in U.S. positions on Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees, and they outline measures taken against Palestinians by the Trump administration including cuts to funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and cuts to other Palestinian aid. They state, “While President Trump’s administration is not the first to show its favoritism of Israelis over Palestinians, we are deeply troubled by its attempt to pursue a sweeping and coordinated set of policies designed to punish Palestinians and take away their human rights, dignity, and hope. By promoting these policies, the Trump administration makes it harder for peace to be realized and increases the chance that there will be new violence.”
The statement includes a call to people of faith to support human rights for Palestinians and Israelis and urges the Trump administration to restore humanitarian aid to Palestinians and “to pursue engagement in honest, credible, and serious efforts with Palestinians, Israelis, regional parties, and the international community, to seek a just resolution to the conflict.”
The statement was sent to the White House and all Congressional offices in November. Now, with a new Congress sworn in, the statement was recently sent on Jan. 11 to the White House as well as members of Congress, whether they won reelection in November or are new on the Hill.
Contact your members of Congress to bring their attention to this important statement from U.S. Christian leaders. Urge them to support constructive policy that respects the needs and rights of both Palestinians and Israelis.