From the Worldwide Faith News archives

NCCCUSA Message to Middle East Peace Talks

Date 16 Oct 1998 14:35:37

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
Contact: NCC News: 212-870-2252
Internet:; Website:



  NEW YORK, N.Y., Oct. 16 ---- The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown 
Campbell, General Secretary of the National Council of 
Churches, conveyed this message today to President Clinton, 
Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Arafat:

*  *  *  *

I greet you in the name of the God of peace, who desires 
peace among all peoples, the one God, compassionate and 
merciful, who out of infinite love has created the universe 
and founded it upon justice and righteousness.

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA 
represents a constituency that has supported efforts to 
achieve a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians 
for many years.  In this we have been joined by Jews, 
Muslims and other people of faith in the U.S. and 
worldwide.  We are heartened that together you have 
undertaken once again the difficult task of negotiations to 
bring all of our hopes for peace closer to fulfillment.

Hope has been sorely tried and tested  in the last two 
years by setbacks and obstacles to  the implementation of 
the 1993 Declaration on Principles and the 1995 Interim 
Agreement which established a framework for security and 
self-determination.  Many believe that the process begun at 
Oslo has failed.  

Bombings and other acts of violence against Israeli 
civilians have terrorized the population and given strength 
to repeated Israeli demands for security.  At the same 
time, Palestinians find themselves vulnerable to and 
victimized by Israeli policies and by some of its citizens 
in numerous ways: shootings, arrests and beatings; the 
confiscation of land and demolition of homes and olive 
groves, the seizure of identity cards and termination of 
residency rights, and the relentless expansion of 

After generations of strife and years of slow negotiation, 
Palestinians and Israelis need a renewed vision of their 
future as inseparable neighbors.  Both peoples need renewed 
confidence in the direction and viability of the peace 
process.  And both need a grounding in security: Security 
for one is dependent upon security for both, and security 
measures must be grounded in an appropriate regard for 
human rights and respect for international law.

In addition, the Palestinian people need to be assured that 
their recognition of the State of Israel is reciprocated by 
a recognition of their own right to self-determination, 
including the possibility of an independent sovereign 
Palestinian state.  Similarly, Israelis need to be assured 
that their recognition of Palestinian self-determination 
and their compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 
242 requiring the withdrawal of their forces from the West 
Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem is consistent with their 
right "to live within secure and recognized boundaries free 
from threats or acts of force."   All parties in the region 
need a clear and practicable vision of a future with peace, 
prosperity, accountable governance, and respect for 

Among the most contentious issues that still lie ahead is 
the status of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is a place of great 
significance to all three Abrahamic religions, a venerated 
place and  destination of pilgrimage.  As the NCCCUSA has 
acknowledged in its document, "City of Holiness and Hope: A 
Message on Jerusalem," the city of Jerusalem is home to 
three religions and is claimed as capital by two peoples 
for two states.  A final resolution of the contested status 
of Jerusalem must recognize and accommodate, in new and 
creative patterns of sovereignty and conviviality, the 
claims of all of these.  We will be constant in prayer that 
our political leadership will find a way for Jerusalem to 
be shared inclusively by all, rather than be held 
exclusively by one.

As the three of you gather with other members of your 
governments, we pray that God will guide your thoughts and 
hearts in the ways that lead to peace.


(Rev. Dr.) Joan Brown Campbell
General Secretary
National Council of Churches

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