Presbyterians for Middle East Peace is pleased that the coalition led by Yair Lapid and Naphtali Bennett has been seated as the new Israeli government. While we are not a partisan organization, we do not support candidates or endorse them, as Calvinists, we recognize how important the stability of government is. Such stability should be a welcome relief to Israelis after after a period with four elections in two years.
We celebrate the diversity of this new government, a government and coalition that comprises all aspects of Israeli society from the left to the right, and includes Arab members from both Muslim and secular parties as part of the coalition. This new government includes seven female ministers, which is a sign of tremendous progress of having a government which resembles the people of Israel itself.
We recognize that this government will be challenged by extremists from across the spectrum, and so our prayers are with the coalition that it would act on behalf of all residents of Israel, Jewish and Arab, secular and religious alike. While the coalition agreement does not give much hope for any change in the peace process, who knows, God can work miracles to create peace. The presence of the Arab partners in the coalition gives us hope that the tensions that exist between the Arab and Jewish societies will be addressed so that all in Israel will find greater opportunity.
Our hope is that the Palestinian community will find its way towards a similiar unity government that can speak on behalf of all Palestinians. Such a step is critical in the peace process. Without democratic elections by the Palestinian Authority and a resolution of the divide between Hamas and the PA, the Palestinian people still do not have true representation.. As people from all spectrums in Israel have joined in a governing coalition, we encourage the Palestinians to follow suit.
We have long believed that the hard work of peacemaking rests not just with the politicians, but also, perhaps especially with the people. We were heartened that the 223rd General Assembly embraced people-to-people peacebuilding, expressing that “hope and love in the Israel and Palestine crisis must come from within,” and celebrating “whenever and wherever Palestinian and Israelis come together in building honest understanding and peace.” We encourage Presbyterians to join with us in supporting these heroic grassroots efforts.