27 January 2006
The election of Hamas
Anthea Cox, Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social
Justice for the Methodist Church:
'There is a danger that the election of Hamas to government may stall meaningful dialogue. The continued settlement expansion in the West Bank threatens many Palestinian communities depriving people of access to their land. Frustration at the lack of progress could lead to more hardline positions on both sides and this can easily boil over into violence and progress towards peace will undoubtedly require people to take the risk of entering dialogue at some point.
'It is important to recognise that the election result was the outcome of a democratic process. In supporting democracy we need to be mindful that this brings with it responsibility. Hamas must now provide effective political leadership on behalf of the whole community and be prepared to renounce violence. Whilst waiting to see how the situation develops, and what the new Palestinian cabinet and government actually looks like, we must hold in our minds the longing of most Palestinians and Israelis for peace in the Holy Land. Both Israelis and Palestinians know that this cannot come about without cost and compromise.
'Jan Sutch Pickard, a former Vice-President of the Methodist Church, has recently returned from Jayouus in the West Bank where she lived alongside Palestinians as a volunteer on the Ecumenical Accompaniment programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). She has spoken of the desire for peaceful working relationships she observed between Hamax and Fatah councillors.'
The EAPPI is an initiative of the World Council of Churches under the Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine: Support a Just Peace in the Middle East. Its mission is to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation. Participants of the programme are monitoring and reporting violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, supporting acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, offering protection through non-violent presence, engaging in public policy advocacy and, in general, standing in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation. For more information visit www.eappi.org.