The election of Hamas

Anthea Cox, Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and SocialJustice for the Methodist Church:

'There is a danger that the election of Hamas to government maystall meaningful dialogue. The continued settlement expansion inthe West Bank threatens many Palestinian communities deprivingpeople of access to their land. Frustration at the lack of progresscould lead to more hardline positions on both sides and this caneasily boil over into violence and progress towards peace willundoubtedly require people to take the risk of entering dialogue atsome point.

'It is important to recognise that the election result was theoutcome of a democratic process. In supporting democracy we need tobe mindful that this brings with it responsibility. Hamas must nowprovide effective political leadership on behalf of the wholecommunity and be prepared to renounce violence. Whilst waiting tosee how the situation develops, and what the new Palestiniancabinet and government actually looks like, we must hold in ourminds the longing of most Palestinians and Israelis for peace inthe Holy Land. Both Israelis and Palestinians know that this cannotcome about without cost and compromise.

'Jan Sutch Pickard, a former Vice-President of the MethodistChurch, has recently returned from Jayouus in the West Bank whereshe lived alongside Palestinians as a volunteer on the EcumenicalAccompaniment programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). She hasspoken of the desire for peaceful working relationships sheobserved between Hamax and Fatah councillors.'


The EAPPI is an initiative of the World Council of Churches underthe Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine:Support a Just Peace in the Middle East. Its mission is toaccompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actionsand concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation. Participantsof the programme are monitoring and reporting violations of humanrights and international humanitarian law, supporting acts ofnon-violent resistance alongside local Christian and MuslimPalestinians and Israeli peace activists, offering protectionthrough non-violent presence, engaging in public policy advocacyand, in general, standing in solidarity with the churches and allthose struggling against the occupation. For more information visitwww.eappi.org.