Statement of declaration on ending the occupation

The Commission on Peace of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington

30 October 2001

The September 11th attack on our country makes more urgent the Churches'
longstanding advocacy of ways to bring peace to the Israelis and
Palestinians. The evil acts of that day oblige our government to reconsider
our national and international obligations in order to combat terrorism more
effectively. Our government's unwillingness over the years to enter the
Middle East conflict with sufficient pressure to bring a measure of justice
has been, in effect, justice denied. It should be no surprise to us that
Arab countries have resented this reluctance of the United States to act.

Our appeal is that our government now become more involved in the
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. We commend the President's vision for the
right of the Palestinians to their own statehood. The long and oppressive
occupation of Palestinian land must end. This humiliating occupation, over
thirty years of military control, has debilitated the economy and the
livelihood of the West Bank and Gaza Strip populace and has brought the
Palestinians to a level of extreme frustration. Coupled with this grievance
is the existence and continuing expansion of the settlements. These
movements, catalysts for violence, must cease and some of the enclaves must
be disbanded.

When United Nation resolutions on settlements are ignored, when the United
States does not use its economic and political power to achieve the changes
it has advocated, it is no wonder that the Palestinians protest the denial
of their rights and their independence. Once stones, now unfortunately
bullets and bombs, each explosion of their anger brings a military response.
The tragic casualty figures in the last year, approximately 600 Palestinians
killed and 150 Israelis dead reveal who has the dominant power. We deplore
the use of terrorism by the Palestinians as we do the retaliatory actions of
the Israelis.

We wish to emphasize that long before the September 11th terrorist attack on
the United States, the churches have made similar appeals to this one. Over
the last year twenty heads of American denominations have denounced the
unjust Israeli policies, as have the Catholic Conference of Bishops and many
of the local leaders of churches in Washington DC.

We remain in support of the security of Israel as well as the establishment
of a viable Palestinian state. Due to domestic pressures, past
administrations have been unwilling to take those measures which could lead
to a true peace in the Middle East. Our nation can no longer afford to be
captive to such politics. Let us have courage and move forward to bring
about peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.