Social Justice Agency's Directors Issue Call for Middle East Peace

April 02, 2009

Statement urges President to speed up withdrawal from Iraq, calls Israeli-Palestinian resolution 'critical' to peace in region.


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The directors of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society issued a statement during their spring meeting in Washington, D.C. that calls for the earliest possible end to the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel/Palestine.


The statement, "A Call for Middle East Peace," notes that the directors' meeting occurred on March 22, the sixth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It praises President Obama for setting a withdrawal date for U.S. combat forces, but urges him to achieve it sooner. The statement also questions his decision to send additional military forces into Afghanistan before a comprehensive review of the situation has been accomplished.


A "just and durable resolution" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is critical, according to the directors. In their statement, the directors say they are praying for U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell in his efforts to facilitate a peace settlement. They also set forth five elements that an accord should ensure: a safe, secure Israel; a safe, secure, viable, and contiguous Palestine; an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory; a recognition of Palestinian refugees' right of return; and a shared Jerusalem.


Micah 4:2-4 is the biblical inspiration for the call for Middle East peace. Those verses declare that nation will not take up sword against nation, "nor will they train for war anymore."


The General Board of Church and Society is one of four international general program agencies of The United Methodist Church, which has more than 11 million members worldwide. The agency's primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education and Leadership Formation, United Nations and International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center at the United Nations in New York City.


The agency's board of directors is comprised of more than 60 persons, lay and clergy, from around the world.


The directors' "Call for Middle East Peace" points out that The United Methodist Church has long advocated peaceful negotiations as "the best means" to resolve disputes between nations and peoples. "As Christians we are called to seek every means of establishing justice and solving disputes nonviolently to replace enduring conflicts with enduring peace," the statement says. "Nowhere is this more important than in the Middle East, a region fraught with enduring conflicts."


Read complete statement here.