The Election of Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian President

Steve Hucklesby, International Affairs Secretary for theMethodist Church: "The overwhelming majority of Palestiniansearnestly desire peace with Israel. Their choice of Mahmoud Abbasas President gives new impetus to the peace process. A peacefulresolution is most likely to emerge from a series of incrementalconfidence building measures. The proposed withdrawal of Israelfrom Gaza represents an important first step.

"We are encouraged again this week to hold in our minds a visionof two states living side by side in peace. This would be a farsurer guarantor of security than the separation wall. It issaddening therefore to hear that Hamas militants continue to firemortars into Israeli settlements in the north of the Gaza strip. Itis vital at this time that all parties exercise restraint in orderthat Israeli and Palestinian leadership can concentrate on makingprogress on the political front."

Methodist minister the Rev Brian Shackleton is currently inIsrael/Palestine as an Ecumenical Accompanier (EA.) During histhree-month trip to the region he is visiting communities in andaround Bethlehem and trying to discover both what ordinary peoplewant and also how the churches can aid the situation.

Brian recently spoke at a meeting of EA's with former U.S.President Jimmy Carter to discuss the elections. "In villages Ivisited I asked the question: 'Why vote?'" Shackleton said. "I gotvarious answers and it was the younger generation which expectedthe most. Because they want peace, not violence. Because they wantto build a community. Because they want security and to endcorruption. Because they want their children to go to school, notin fear. Because they want to visit their cousins when they choose.Because they want to farm their fields which are now on the otherside of the Wall. Abu Mazen, you have quite a challenge. Let's hopeyou get some help."


1) For more information about the EA programme visit http://www.eappi.org/

2) Brian Shackleton will return to the UK in February and willbe available to talk about his experiences in Bethlehem. Fordetails of how to invite Brian or another EA to speak at a meeting,see http://www.quaker.org.uk/eappi/speaker.html

3) Mahmoud Abbas is also known as Abu Mazen.