May 20, 2021
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 May 19, 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.
Rev. Eddy Alemán General Secretary Reformed Church in AmericaChristine 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 World Renew Canada Director
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