10 April 2002

President voices concerns over conflict in the Middle East

The President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Christina Le Moignan, today expresses her concerns over the current conflict in the Middle East. In a statement, she says:

"We face a rapidly changing situation in the Middle East, and we need to hold onto the fundamentals. What are the things which make for peace? - Jesus wept over Jerusalem, as many are now weeping over the Holy Land, because such things were 'hid from their eyes'.

"Peace needs justice. We often assume that the Middle East conflict is 'six of one and half a dozen of the other'. This is simply not true. Israel has been occupying Palestinian territory unlawfully since 1967, and justice requires that it withdraw. Nor has it been a benign occupation. Palestinians' physical movement is restricted, and the resources of the occupied territories are exploited in the settlers' favour: Jewish settlers have swimming pools, while many Palestinians haven't enough drinking water.

"Peace needs equity. As well as the economic inequity, there is, most obviously, a military one. On the Israeli side are tanks; on the Palestinian side are stones and the occasional rifle. That must go a long way to explain the suicide bombings, though it does not justify them. There has to be a very serious question for the West about its providing military aid for Israel.

"Peace needs security. Israel's need for secure borders must be acknowledged and met. But security does not justify any and every means used to ensure it. And security which uses unjust means is self-defeating. Israel needs to win friends, not to make itself more enemies.

"Fundamentally peace needs the recognition of human beings' aspirations, and of their dignity, on both sides of this heart-breaking conflict. I hope that the international community can uphold this sense of human value, and I pray that it will find the appropriate means of helping to build a just peace."

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