The image shows Bishop Chessun (left) and Bishop Lang in the Cremisan Valley in 2016.

Catholic Bishops and representatives of Catholic organisations have joined global Church leaders in writing to the United Nations Security Council to call for a “permanent and lasting solution” to the violence and instability in Israel-Palestine.

They say that the loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives “could, and should, have been avoided”.

Condemning attacks against civilians, the church leaders from Europe and North America call on the members of the UN Security Council to set aside differences to push for an immediate ceasefire.

They stress that the root causes need to be properly addressed to break the cycle of violence.

“We urge the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), to act immediately to address the continuing underlying causes of injustice that will otherwise remain a constant threat to peace in the Holy Land: occupation, land dispossession, displacement, and the withholding of basic human rights we take for granted.

“What is required is not a temporary ceasefire, but a permanent and lasting solution that will guarantee equality and human rights for all.”

The Chair of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales’ International Affairs department, Bishop Declan Lang signed the letter alongside bishops who take part in the annual Holy Land Co-ordination pilgrimage to the region. Christine Allen, Director of CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) and former Master of the Dominicans, Timothy Radcliffe OP, are also signatories.

Full Letter

May 20, 2021
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY 10017

Dear Members of the United Nations Security Council:

We write to you as church leaders from Europe and North America with deep ties to the Holy Land and a strong commitment to work toward a just and lasting end to the conflict in Israel-Palestine. The increased violence of the past weeks and the loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives could, and should, have been avoided. During the holy month of Ramadan, over 200 Muslims were injured when Israeli police forces deployed rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas canisters inside the third most important Holy place for Muslims. Respect for, and guaranteed access to, all holy sites particularly, but not only in Jerusalem, is an essential precursor to a return to calm. We condemn all attacks against civilians – including Israel’s bombing of Gaza and rocket fire from Hamas – as a violation of international humanitarian law.

Every effort to secure an immediate ceasefire, including direct pressure from international governments and multilateral bodies, must be pursued. Every hour without a ceasefire leads to more suffering and civilian deaths as of 19 May, at least 227 Palestinians in Gaza, including 64 children, and 12 Israelis, including 2 children have died. We call on members of the Security Council, including the United States and the other permanent members, to put aside differences and call for an immediate ceasefire.

Extreme violence will remain a constant threat until and unless the root causes of the conflict are properly addressed. In Jerusalem, a city of sacred importance to Christian, Jews, and Muslims, the current unrest is linked directly to the ongoing military occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel, and efforts to remove Palestinians residents from their homes.

In the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, several families face imminent forced expulsion from the homes they have lived in for decades, to make way for Israeli settlers. Over the past several decades we have seen a significant increase in de facto annexation, with Palestinians expelled from their homes throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to make way for expanded illegal Israeli settlements. The daily humiliations of occupation are reinforced by restrictions on movements, evictions and demolitions. For violence to end permanently Israel’s occupation must also end.

We urge the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), to act immediately to address the continuing underlying causes of injustice that will otherwise remain a constant threat to peace in the Holy Land: occupation, land dispossession, displacement, and the withholding of basic human rights we take for granted. What is required is not a temporary ceasefire, but a permanent and lasting solution that will guarantee equality and human rights for all.

Signatories

Rev. Eddy Alemán
General Secretary, Reformed Church in America

Christine Allen
Director, CAFOD

His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos
Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London

His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian
Ecumenical Director and Diocesan Legate
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)

Canon Anthony Ball
Chair, Jerusalem and the Middle East Church Association

Carol Bremer-Bennett
Director, World Renew U.S.

Revd Dr John Bradbury
General Secretary, United Reformed Church

Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace

The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun
The Lord Bishop of Southwark
Church of England Lead Bishop for International
Affairs

Father Drew Christiansen, S.J.
Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Global Human
Development
Senior Fellow, Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace,
and World Affairs
Georgetown University

The Revd David Coffey
Former Moderator, Free Churches Group

Carole Collins
Director of Operations and Finance, Alliance of Baptists

The Most Rev Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church

Anita Delhaas-van Dijk
Chief Executive, International Community of the Holy Sepulchre (ICoHS)

Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey
Director of Partnership Relations, Alliance of Baptists

Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer
General Minister and President, United Church of Christ

Rev. Emmett L. Dunn
Executive Secretary-Treasurer/CEO, Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Society, Inc.

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair
Moderator, General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Sir Vincent Fean
Chair of Trustees, The Balfour Project

Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray
President, Unitarian Universalist Association

Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall
Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Church of England

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit

Susan Gunn
Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Rev. Dr. Jimmie Hawkins
Director of Advocacy for Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministries (CPJ), Presbyterian Church (USA)

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe
General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, The United Methodist Church

Revd Canon Garth Hewitt
Founder Amos Trust, Canon of St George’s Anglican Cathedral, Jerusalem

Rt Revd John Inge
The Lord Bishop of Worcester
Lead Bishop for International Affairs, Church of England

Ida Kaastra-Mutoigo
Director, World Renew Canada

Rev. Dr. Julia Brown Karimu
President, Division of Overseas Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Bishop Declan Lang
Bishop of Clifton
Chair, Department of International Affairs, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Rt Revd Dr Michael Langrish
Former Bishop of Exeter

Carolyn Lawrence
Vice-President, Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain

Tim Livesey
CEO, Embrace the Middle East

Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews
President, Alliance of Baptists

Very Rev Andrew R C McLellan
Former Moderator, General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Bishop Alan McGuckian
Bishop of Raphoe
Chair Council for Justice and Peace, Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Amanda Mukwashi
CEO, Christian Aid

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Bishop William Nolan
Bishop of Galloway
Commission for Justice and Peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens
General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

Rt Revd John Pritchard
Former Bishop of Oxford, Church of England

Timothy Radcliffe OP
Former Master of the Order of Preachers, Dominicans

Diane Randall
General Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Rev Chris Rose
Director, Amos Trust

Richard Santos
President and CEO, Church World Service

Dr. Ron Sider
President emeritus, Evangelicals for Social Action
Board co-chair, Christians for Social Action

Dr. Andrea Smith
Founder and Board Member, Evangelicals4Justice

Rev. JP Sundararajan
Director of Global Mission, Reformed Church in America

Revd Richard Teal
President of the Conference, Methodist Church in Britain

Rev. Dr. Al Tizon
Executive Minister of the Evangelical Covenant Church

Nikki Toyama-Szeto
Executive Director, Christians for Social Action

Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson
Associate General Minister, United Church of Christ
Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Bishop Noël Treanor
Bishop of Down and Connor
President – Justice and Peace Europe

Colin Watson
Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary, National Council of Churches

Archpriest Thomas Zain
Vicar-General, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America