A prime minister’s visit

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a large delegation of Parliamentarians, business people, religious leaders and others are visiting Israel and occupied Palestine to much fanfare this week.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

Significant attention has been paid to how the Prime Minister’s words and actions – not only in recent days – seem to depart from official Canadian government policy.  His reluctance to publicly critique the unabated construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is one case in point.

MCC has worked alongside Palestinians for more than sixty years and alongside Israelis for more than forty.  Given this long history and an ongoing presence in the region, MCC workers are watching Prime Minister Harper’s visit keenly. Stay tuned for a reflection on the visit by MCC worker in Bethlehem, Rachelle Friesen.

MCC is committed to nonviolence and to a future of peace, justice and reconciliation for  Israelis and Palestinians. The following points guide MCC’s advocacy efforts on Palestine and Israel:

  • The land of Palestine and Israel should be a secure home for all, Palestinians and Israelis alike.
  • Any violence, especially attacks on civilians, is to be deplored. MCC mourns with all who have lost loved ones in the conflict, and awaits the day when both peoples will live in security on the land.
  • Any ideology or political program which seeks the expulsion or subordination of either Palestinians or Israelis is to be rejected.
  • Any political settlement or state solution should embrace:
    • A commitment to respect for human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other covenants and conventions;
    • An end to the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, as called for by the UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338;
    • A shared Jerusalem, in which Jews, Christians and Muslims may worship and practice their faiths freely and securely;
    • An end to discriminatory confiscation and distribution of land and water resources, including those practices prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention;
    • The dismantling of the illegal separation wall, in accordance with the ruling from the International Court of Justice.

MCC resources on Palestine and Israel include the following:

“Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: A Question for the Church,” MCC Peace Office Newsletter, September 2012.
What is Palestine/Israel? Answers to common questions, by Sonia K Weaver (Herald Press, 2007).
Under Vine and Fig Tree: Biblical Theologies of Land and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, edited by Alain Epp Weaver (Cascadia Press, 2007).

By Esther Epp-Tiessen, Public Engagement Coordinator for MCC Canada’s Ottawa Office.

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