2003 General Assembly

Therefore, the 215th General Assembly (2003):

A. Asks pastors, lay leaders, sessions and individual members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to:

  1. Pray, and invite others to pray, to the God of Peace to direct the hearts, minds, wills, and actions of those in positions of authority or influence in the Middle East, as well as those who know only aggression and violence, to seek the ways of peace.
  2. Avail themselves of study resources that help them understand the history, nature, and dimensions of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
  3. Seek out other Christians, Jews, and Muslims, in their own areas, to work together through interfaith peacebuilding, and in support of every effort made, whether by Israelis, Palestinians, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the Christian churches, and/or other religious and secular organizations that aim toward bringing about a just, honorable, secure, and viable peace in the Middle East.
  4. Travel to the region, as may be feasible and opportune, to visit with Christian partners and others, to gain firsthand experience in understanding of the issues and dynamics behind the conflict, as well as the possibilities for peace and good will, making sure to take advantage of the contacts and travel study resources produced by the PC(USA) and its partners, as well as PC(USA) mission workers and others in the region, who are able to introduce visitors to a wide spectrum of perspectives and opinions within the communities of people in the Holy Land.
  5. Take individual and collective initiatives to tell the truth, having “listened with both ears,” and to advocate for a just peace in the Middle East with their representatives in Congress, the administration, United Nations officials, local/regional/national newspaper editors and other opinion makers.
  6. Participate and/or promote participation in the international Christian “Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel” (EAPPI), organized through the World Council of Churches, in partnership with Palestinian Christians (for information, see www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/palestine/eap.html).
  7. Increase Presbyterian support to assist the churches in the region to build and maintain their capacity for retaining competent leadership and to create opportunities for vocational training and economic development, in order to curb the flight of Christians from the homeland of their faith.

B. Reaffirms the actions of previous General Assemblies (cf., in 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1992, 1991, 1990 several resolutions, 1988, 1987, 1986, and earlier to 1967) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and communications by the Stated Clerk based on those actions (cf., most recently: April 5, 2002; March 8 and 11, 2002; October 14, 2000, etc.):

  1. Supporting the resolutions of the United Nations, affirming the right of Israel to exist within secure borders, and the right of the Palestinians to self-determination, including the establishment of their own sovereign state and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
  2. Calling on the Israelis and Palestinians to cease their acts of violence against each other.
  3. Urging the Israeli government to end its expansionist policies of confiscation of land and water resources and the building and enlarging of settlements, and of collective punishment of Palestinians, such as is exercised through administrative detentions, demolition of homes, mass house imprisonment (“curfews”), uprooting olive trees, setting up road blocks and checkpoints, and other forms of harassment and humiliation.
  4. Calling on the Israeli government to end the occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.
  5. Urging the United States government to intervene actively with the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to broker a just, secure, and permanent peace.

C. Urges the United Nations, in view of the continuing cycle of violence seen in suicide bombings and brutal attacks by Palestinian extremist groups, fierce aggression by the Israeli army against Palestinian civilians, the unending military siege of Palestinian towns and villages that has devastated their lives and brought about more violent resistance, to deploy an international peacekeeping force, in order to restore calm in the Occupied Territories, while resuming peace negotiations may be vigorously pursued.

D. Strongly urges Israeli and Palestinian leaders to be serious, active, and diligent about seeking peace for their peoples; or, if they are unwilling or unable, to step down and make room for other leaders who will and can.

E. Challenges and encourages discussion of theological interpretations that confuse biblical prophesies and affirmations of covenant, promise, and land, which are predicated on justice, righteousness, and mercy, with political statehood that asserts itself through military might, repressive discrimination, abuse of human rights, and other actions that do not reveal a will to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God.

F. Urges the government of Israel to hasten to end the occupation of Palestinian territories; and to accept the League of the Arab Nations’ unanimous offer for peace in return of the land occupied by Israel since 1967 and urges the League of the Arab Nations to commit to doing everything in their power to eliminate funding and support for terrorist acts against Israeli citizens.

G. Urges the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership to work on resolving the issue of the right of return. With the assistance of the United Nations, both sides can, if they will, strive for and reach, an understanding that affirms the right of return of Palestinians while working out a mutually acceptable formula for implementation.

H. Strongly urges the United States to take seriously its leadership role to begin a peace initiative that will end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and fulfill the stated goal of a two-state settlement based on the pre-1967 boundaries as directed by UNSC 242. The administration needs to be fair in listening to the legitimate needs of both the Israelis and the Palestinians and to require both to adhere to the same standards of nonaggression. An end of the occupation is essential to achieving peace and the common good of the two peoples and three faiths that are deeply rooted in this land.

I. Urges the United States government to demonstrate its seriousness about being the sponsor of the Middle East peace process and the creation of a viable Palestinian state “within three years” (two years now), by

  1. undertaking steps to restructure and reallocate its present annual aid to the Middle East to enable and support strategies for development of the region as a whole;
  2. devising such strategies that will result in human advancement, economic growth, a more equitable distribution of resources, improvement in the quality of education, greater participation in governance, and the empowerment of women;
  3. assuring that U.S. policies and economic assistance programs contribute to these ends;
  4. engaging other donors, and countries in the region, in conversations about how such goals can be achieved; and
  5. ensuring that sufficient resources and economic aid are made available to the Palestinian people in order to help rebuild and modernize Palestinian schools, create effective vocational training programs, resuscitate the Palestinian economy by rebuilding the Gaza Airport, constructing the long-promised harbor, facilitating trade and meaningful employment, and reinforcing the administrative infrastructure.

J. Calls on the United States government and the United Nations to work closely with both the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership to establish effective mechanisms for examining and correcting their own respective application of the principles of participatory democracy, decent governance, and respect for human rights.