President voices concerns over conflict in the Middle East

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

"We face a rapidly changing situation in the Middle East, and weneed to hold onto the fundamentals. What are the things which makefor peace? - Jesus wept over Jerusalem, as many are now weepingover the Holy Land, because such things were 'hid from theireyes'.

"Peace needs justice. We often assume that the Middle Eastconflict is 'six of one and half a dozen of the other'. This issimply not true. Israel has been occupying Palestinian territoryunlawfully since 1967, and justice requires that it withdraw. Norhas it been a benign occupation. Palestinians' physical movement isrestricted, and the resources of the occupied territories areexploited in the settlers' favour: Jewish settlers have swimmingpools, 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; onthe Palestinian side are stones and the occasional rifle. That mustgo a long way to explain the suicide bombings, though it does notjustify them. There has to be a very serious question for the Westabout its providing military aid for Israel.

"Peace needs security. Israel's need for secure borders must beacknowledged and met. But security does not justify any and everymeans used to ensure it. And security which uses unjust means isself-defeating. Israel needs to win friends, not to make itselfmore enemies.

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