RELIGIOUS LEADERS URGE

PRESIDENT CLINTON TO SUPPORT PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS

January 26, 1999

Over 900 clergy, including over 130 Protestant and Catholic bishops, as well as numerous lay religious leaders, have called on the Clinton Administration to press the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian Authority, headed by Yasir Arafat, to cease violating the human rights of Palestinians.

The statement was delivered today to US, Israeli, and Palestinian officials in New York, Washington, and other cities by SEARCH for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel, a Boston-based human rights group seeking a just Israeli- Palestinian peace.

The human rights petition calls on President Clinton to “publicly urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to abide by international law and human rights conventions” and to link US financial aid to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to their “compliance with human rights covenants.”

In Israel’s case, the Clinton Administration is asked to adhere to US law which prohibits economic or military aid to nations “engaging in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

Clinton is asked to “urge Israel to dismantle all settlements except where settlers are willing to live as equal citizens within a Palestinian state,” and “to return all land and water resources confiscated from Palestinians since 1967.”

The religious leaders cite Israeli violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention, both signed by Israel and the US. These violations continue despite Israeli-Palestinian agreements at Oslo and Wye, and include torture, settlement expansion, destruction of homes, confiscation of land and water resources, prevention of family reunification, and collective punishment. The statement also deplores the use of torture, secret trials, and press censorship by the Palestinian Authority.

Charges of human rights violations by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority are based on reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,Physicians for Human Rights, the State Department, the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups.

In seeking a nonviolent, just settlement, the signatories call for an end to “violence against civilians, whether by Palestinians, Jewish settlers or the Israeli state,” and ask the US government to “support the rights of Palestinians as well as Israelis.” The petition calls for an undivided Jerusalem where Israel and a Palestinian State will have their respective capitals in West and East Jerusalem.

At a time when the world has just observed the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the signatories are urging Washington to realize that Palestinian (and Arab)-Israeli peace is “only possible if based on justice, human rights, and self-determination for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Christians and Muslims.”

In releasing the statement, SEARCH’s Executive Director Edmund R. Hanauer noted that past resolutions of the major mainline Protestant and Orthodox churches as well as the Roman Catholic church agree with many, if not all,of the statement’s concerns for Palestinian rights, including a halt to Jewish settlements, self-determination for Palestinians, and religious and political equality in Jerusalem.

“If President Clinton heeded Judeo-Christian values and international law,” Hanauer said, “his policies would reflect the positions of US religious leaders and Israeli human rights groups, not those of the Israeli government and the Israeli lobby in the US.”

Signatories (affiliations for purposes of identification only) include

Antiochian Orthodox Archbishop Philip Saliba;

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, past president of the Catholic peace group Pax Christi;

Bishop Edmond L.Browning, past Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church;

Bishop Herbert W. Chilstrom, past Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;

Bishop Paul Moore, Jr.

As well as over 130 bishops from the Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Antiochian, and Catholic churches.

Also signing:

Salam Al- Marayati, Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council of Los Angeles;

Peace activists Philip Berrigan and Daniel Berrigan, S.J.;

Dr. Dale L. Bishop, General Secretary for Mission Program, United Church Board for World Ministries;

Richard Deats, editor of Fellowship;

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb;

Joe Hale, General Secretary, World Methodist Council;

Rev. J. M. Lawson, Jr., Chair, National Council, Fellowship of Reconciliation;

Rev. Ken Sehested, Executive Director, Baptist Peace Fellowship;

Rev. Patricia Tucker Spier, President, Division of Overseas Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ);

Gene Stoltzfus, Director, Christian Peacemaker Teams;

Rev. Donald E. Wagner, Director, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding;

Rev. William Wipfler, former Director, Human Rights Office of the National Council of Churches;

Five past Moderators of the Presbyterian Church, USA: Robert Bohl, John Fife, Clinton Marsh, Herbert D. Valentine, and Benjamin Weir; and theologians John Cobb, Harvey Cox, and Rosemary Ruether.

The statement has been endorsed by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Catholic, Brethren, Disciples, Muslim, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Buddhist, and Church of God Peace Fellowships, the Methodist Federation for Social Action, and the Office of Social Witness, Reformed Church in America.

SEARCH for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel is a Boston-based human rights, public policy organization committed to a just Palestinian-Israeli peace.

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Text of human rights petition. (List of signatories available upon request.):

A Clergy/Religious Leaders' Petition on Palestinian/Israeli Human Rights being circulated in the United States by SEARCH for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel

"If you want peace, work for justice." -- Pope Paul VI "

Good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Some are guilty; all are responsible." -- Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

"My Lord hath commanded justice." -- the Holy Koran

Last December marked the 50th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As religious leaders, we pray and hope for the implementation of the Declaration in Palestine/Israel. We:

-- believe Palestinian-Israeli peace is only possible if based on justice, human rights, and self- determination for both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Christians and Muslims.

-- oppose violence against civilians, whether by Palestinians, Jewish settlers, or the Israeli government.

-- want our government to support the rights of Palestinians as well as of Israelis.

We condemn human rights violations by Israel and Palestinian Authority, violations which preclude justice for Palestinians and security for Israelis.

I. Israeli violations are documented by the US State Department, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, Lawyers for Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups.

Israel signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Yet Israel continues to violate:

Articles of the Universal Declaration which prohibit

-- torture and inhuman treatment (Article 5) -- denial of equal protection under the law (Article 7) -- arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile (Article 9) -- denial of the right to return to one's country (Article 13) -- arbitrary expropriation of personal property (Article 17)

Articles of the Geneva Convention which prohibit

-- torture (Article 32) -- collective punishment (Article 33) -- annexation of occupied territory (Article 47) -- transfer of the occupying power's own population into the occupied area (Article 49) -- destruction of property (Article 53) -- denial of food and medical supplies (Article 55)

II. Palestinian human rights violations are documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Palestinian human rights groups. The Palestinian Authority uses secret trials, torture, and intimidation of political opponents and the media. While the Palestinian Authority is not a signatory of the Universal Declaration, these actions violate its spirit.

III. Under the Geneva Convention the United States has an obligation to see that other signatories, such as Israel, abide by the Convention.

US law prohibits economic or military aid (sections 116 and 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act) to countries "engaging in a consistent pattern of gross violation of internationally recognized human rights."

Given these international and domestic obligations, we call on our government to:

1) Publicly urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to abide by international law and human rights conventions.

2) Withhold financial aid to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, until they comply with human rights covenants. Pending compliance, aid should be given only to Israeli and Palestinian non- governmental organizations working for peace based on human rights.

3) Publicly support full self-determination of Palestinians in a West Bank- Gaza state within the borders prior to the June 1967 war.

4) Support a peace which recognizes the unique religious significance of Jerusalem and gives equal national status to Israelis and Palestinians in a shared, undivided Jerusalem.

5) Urge Israel to cease demolition of Palestinian homes and the seizure of Palestinian lands and to return all land and water resources confiscated from Palestinians since 1967.

6) Urge Israel to dismantle all settlements except where settlers are willing to live as equal citizens within a Palestinian state.

7) Support the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland or receive compensation, as called for by UN resolutions.

8) Support the release of political prisoners held by Israel.

9) Urge Israel to ensure equal rights and opportunities for all Palestinians living in Israel.

SEARCH for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel

P.O. Box 3452,

Framingham, MA 01705-3452

(508) 877-2611

January 26, 1999

For immediate release

Contact: Edmund Hanauer at (508) 877-2611

Laurel Nelson at (303) 678-1007