1995 General Assembly

1995 Statement – PC(USA),  pp. 688-689

The 207th General Assembly (1995)

  1. Reaffirm[s] actions of previous General Assemblies (1974, 1984, 1988, 1990) supporting the status of Jerusalem.
  2. Reaffirm[s the] actions of previous General Assemblies (1974, 1977, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991) acknowledging the right of Israel to exist within secure, internationally recognized borders and the right of the Palestinians to self-determination.
  3. Urges the president and the United States Congress to:
    a.  support the United Nations in the implementation of its resolutions on the future of Jerusalem;
    b.  renew efforts to make U.S. aid to Israel conditional upon the cessation of the appropriation of Palestinian land in and around Jerusalem and the establishment of new settlements in the occupied territories, especially those that are a part of the ongoing efforts to create a Greater Jerusalem;
    c.  reject current legislative efforts to move the United States’ embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step that would do severe damage to the Middle East Peace Process.
  4. Urge[s] the Israeli government to lift the military closures of Jerusalem that deny Christians, Muslims, and others access to their places of worship, employment, health care, education, and other basic services.
  5. Endorse[s] the statement, “Jerusalem: City of Peace,” sent by eight leaders of Christian communions and organizations to President Clinton on March 6, 1995;
  6. Endorse[s] the “Memorandum of Their Beatitudes the Patriarchs and of the Heads of Christian Communities in Jerusalem,” November 14, 1994, on “The Significance of Jerusalem for Christians,” which declares that “Jerusalem is a symbol and a promise of the presence of God, of fraternity and peace for humankind, in particular the children of Abraham: Jews, Christians, and Muslims,” and which calls, further, “upon  each party to go beyond all exclusivist visions or actions, and without discrimination, to consider the religious and national aspirations of others, in order to give back to Jerusalem its true character and to make of the city a holy place of reconciliation for humankind.”
  7. Reaffirm[s] the conviction expressed by the 203rd General Assembly (1991)  and supported by actions of the 1974, 1984, and 1987 assemblies, that the future of Jerusalem is not simply a political, social, or economic issue; but is, at its heart, a religious issue grounded in the commitment of three faith groups who claim to be the children of Abraham and for whom, in the providence of God, Jerusalem is a unique symbol of the hope for a future marked by peace and justice for all of God’s children.
  8. Call[s] upon all Presbyterians to pray daily for the peace of Jerusalem, remembering the unique place of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in that Holy City, and remembering the difficulties faced by both Palestinian and Israeli leaders as they try to move forward in the fragile peace process without losing the support of the people they represent.
  9. Direct[s] the Stated Clerk to send copies of this resolution to the Middle East Council of Churches, Churches for Middle East Peace, the signers of both the memorandum on “The Significance of Jerusalem for Christians” and the letter on “Jerusalem: City of Peace,” the president of the United States, members of the House International Relations Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the secretary of state, the secretary general of the United Nations, and the government of Israel.

ACSWP Commentary

The letter, “Jerusalem: City of Peace”, signed by many representative leaders of Christian communions and organizations in the United States, appealed to President Clinton “that in its role as facilitator to the Middle East peace process, the United States government place the question of Jerusalem higher on its agenda.  Above all we ask that the administration use its influence to prevent this vital issue from being settled by force of events or the creation of facts [sic?] on the ground. …In view of the deteriorating conditions on the ground… we urge you to use your good offices to see that the negotiators take up the question of Jerusalem as soon as possible and that the position of the United States fully reflects the concerns expressed in this statement.

The full text of “Jerusalem: City of Peace”, is found in PC(USA), 1995, pp. 362-363.

In other action vis a vis the Middle East, the 207th General Assembly (1995) responded to a correspondence from the Rev. Dr. Salim Sahiouny, the General Secretary of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon.  The General Secretary wrote, “As an act of pastoral solidarity with us, we request that the 207th General Assembly will appeal to the Government of the United States of America, urging it to exercise its diplomatic and political resources to support a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from these areas of Syria and Lebanon.  We believe that such an effort by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will make a significant contribution to ongoing peace process.”

In response to this specific request, the Stated Clerk on behalf of the 207th General Assembly (1995), wrote, “We shall continue to appeal to those in a position of authority to use their good offices to maintain the momentum of the peace process, to bring about an end to military occupation, and to assure the security of all the peoples in your region.  For the full text of the letter, see PC(USA), 1995, pp. 721.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has expressed consistent concern for peace between Israel, the Palestinian people, and the Arab states, and for U.S. policies to encourage and help bring to fruition negotiations for comprehensive, just, and lasting peace (UPCUSA, 1969, p. 595;UPCUSA, 1974, p. 584; PCUS, 1976, p. 218; UPCUSA, 1977, pp. 430, 484; PC(USA), 1984, p. 338; PC(USA), 1986, p. 877; PC(USA), 1988, p. 365; PC(USA), 1990, pp. 105, 106; PC(USA), 1995, pp. 688, 718).  Our concerns and positions are informed by 160 years of Presbyterian involvement in the Middle East, by the situation and perspectives of Middle Eastern Christians, including series of the Middle East Council of Churches and, more recently, urgent concerns about Jerusalem expressed by the leaders of the Christian churches in Jerusalem.  Our concerns and positions in relation to peace in the Middle East are also informed by and sensitive to concerns for Christian-Jewish and Christian-Muslim relations. (See PC(USA), 1988, pp. 365–66;PC(USA), 1989, p. 585;PC(USA), 1990, p. 104.)  Members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) work for the Middle East locally, nationally, and internationally in a variety of ways, including in cooperation with members of other Christian communions; ecumenical agencies, such as Churches for Middle East Peace, the National Council of Churches, and World Council of Churches; and in a variety of interreligious efforts, including the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East.