General Assembly Call for 'Just Peace' in Holy Land

The Church of Scotland General Assembly has called for a ‘just peace’ in Israel/Palestine, and condemned the expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, writes Life and Work magazine in its daily summary of the 2017 General Assembly for Monday 22 May.

Rev Iain Cunningham

However, it stopped short of endorsing economic sanctions against Israel, after one of the Church’s ministers in Jerusalem said that would amount to ‘reckless endangerment’ of its institutions and activities in the Holy Land.

The Assembly was discussing the joint report by the World Mission and Church and Society Councils on the centenary of the Balfour Report – the letter sent by then British Foreign Secretary (and Church of Scotland elder) Lord Balfour which stated that the British Government favoured the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

The Convener of the World Mission Council, the Rev Iain Cunningham, said that the report, which calls for sensitivity in marking the declaration and commends non-violent means of resolving the difficulties in the Holy Land, a ‘suitably balanced response’ and urged the Church ‘to engage prayerfully and practically in the pursuit of a just peace for all’.

He added that ‘it is never real justice unless it is justice for all who are involved; and it is not real peace until it is peace for all involved… replacing one injustice with a different one does not establish justice’.

Changes to the deliverance which hardened the language of condemnation of illegal Israeli actions and recognised the suffering of the Palestinian people were accepted, as well as one expressing ‘deep concern in regard to Hamas’s continued declaration… that Israel does not have the right to exist’.

However, part of a counter-motion from the Rev Tom Gordon which called for ‘the adoption of economic measures to pressure the state of Israel to comply with international law’ was rejected. The Rev Paraic Reamonn, minister of St Andrew’s Jerusalem, said that it could cause the Church to fall foul of Israeli laws against organisations calling for economic sanctions: “It could put all of our organisations in Israel at risk. I could be denied entry to Israel.”

Read the rest of the summary of Monday's General Assembly proceedings on the Life and Work website.