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WCC NEWS: Statement on the war in Lebanon and northern Israel

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  • Rev Fr John Brian
    World Council of Churches - News Release Contact: +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@wcc-coe.org For immediate release - 05/09/2006 02:26:34 PM NEW MIDDLE
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5, 2006
      World Council of Churches - News Release
      Contact: +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@... For immediate
      release - 05/09/2006 02:26:34 PM


      In a major new initiative, the central committee of the World Council of
      Churches (WCC) has endorsed proposals to establish a comprehensive
      ecumenical advocacy initiative for peace in the Middle East, and has
      reiterated its alarm at the dramatic humanitarian consequences and alleged
      violations of international law during the recent war in Lebanon and
      northern Israel.

      In a "statement on the war in Lebanon and northern Israel, and ecumenical
      action for Middle East peace," central committee members approved the
      creation of a Palestine/Israel Ecumenical Forum under the auspices of the
      WCC, which would "catalyse and co-ordinate" new and existing church advocacy
      for peace, aim at ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories
      in accordance with UN resolutions, and would "demonstrate its commitment to
      inter-religious action for peace and to justice that serves all peoples of
      the region."

      "Churches, other civil society groups and a number of governments are eager
      to see a radical re-engagement by the international community in peaceful
      and equitable resolutions of the conflict in Lebanon and related conflicts
      in the Middle East," the statement said.

      "May a united ecumenical community * in prayer and action * make a new and
      substantial contribution to peace with justice in the Middle East."

      The Forum initiative was proposed earlier in the meeting by the WCC general
      secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia. The WCC leader also announced his intention
      to personally visit churches in the region in the near future.

      The statement was issued following the report to central committee of an
      ecumenical delegation that visited Beirut and Jerusalem in early August, and
      an address by Lebanese government minister Dr Tarek Mitri, which gave
      evidence of the devastating consequences of the conflict.

      Expressing its "shock and profound sorrow" at the suffering and loss of life
      in both northern Israel and Lebanon, the central committee statement also
      expressed its "alarm" at the "violations of international law on armed
      conflict by the combatants in this war and by the international community's
      failure to ensure the protection of civilians and the proportionate use of
      military force."

      The central committee called for a sustainable and unconditional cease-fire,
      and lifting of the blockade of Lebanon.

      The statement urges the United Nations to establish an international inquiry
      to investigate violations of international humanitarian law during the
      recent conflict, and insisted on the release or trial according to
      international norms of all detainees held by parties to the conflict.

      In other actions related to the Middle East region, the public issues
      committee expressed concern at the failure of the government of Israel to
      ratify the election of the head of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem,
      Patriarch Theophilos III, thereby obstructing the church from carrying out
      regular legal functions.

      Related Links:

      Full text of the statement on the war in Lebanon and Northern Israel, and
      ecumenical action for Middle East peace will be available later on Tuesday,
      5 September, on the WCC website:

      The full texts of recent WCC statements on the Middle East are available in
      the WCC on-line press room:

      Other statements by churches and church-related groups appear on the Decade
      to Overcome Violence website:

      More information on the WCC Central Committee meeting is available on the
      WCC website:

      Additional information: Juan Michel, +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363

      Sign up for WCC press releases at

      The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and
      service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches
      founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 348 Protestant, Orthodox,
      Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in
      over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.
      The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church
      in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
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