ELCA NEWS SERVICE
February 3, 2011
ELCA Presiding Bishop Calls on U.S. to Support Resolution on Settlements
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), joined by 12 leaders of Christian churches and organizations, urged the Obama administration to support a resolution submitted to the U.N. Security Council which calls on Israel to stop illegal construction of settlements on Palestinian land.
"We are Christian leaders deeply committed to building a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians," the Christian leaders wrote in a Feb. 2 letter to U.S. President Barack Obama. "We also share a concern for our Christian companions, who are constantly working for the good of all in the region. Therefore, we believe that the United States must now respond positively to the resolution on Israeli settlement construction activity and related issues that soon may be considered in the U.N. Security Council."
The draft resolution, introduced this week, describes the settlement construction activity as illegal, an obstacle to peace and not legitimate. Hanson and the other Christian leaders wrote that the U.S. government has used such language in the past to describe the settlement construction activity. The Christian leaders are concerned that the U.S. may not support the resolution because of U.S. Department of State concerns that it may affect direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
"We fear that lack of positive U.S. support for this resolution will increase political despondency, thus amplifying the voices of extremists on both sides of this conflict. Such developments could threaten the recent real advances in the governing capacity of the Palestinian Authority," the Christian leaders wrote.
The leaders said that the resolution "refers to undertakings on settlement construction agreed to in the past by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United States, though not implemented."
The resolution stresses the importance of improving the situation on the ground and building confidence between the parties. However, the expansion of Israeli infrastructure into the West Bank continues despite U.S. requests for restraint by the Israelis and "generous U.S. offers of security and political assistance," the Christian leaders wrote.
The Christian leaders said that the U.S. should support this U.N. resolution to help reassert U.S. moral authority in the region and to demonstrate U.S. resolve to reach a "final status agreement" as soon as feasible.
"We are convinced that these goals can be achieved while advancing important interests of the United States and the wider international community," the Christian leaders wrote in their letter.
Among those who signed the letter with Hanson were the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary, National Council of Churches USA, and leaders of four ELCA full-communion partner churches:
+ The Rev. Geoffrey Black, general minister and president, United Church of Christ
+ The Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary, Reformed Church in America
+ The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
+ Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey, president, General Board of Church and Society, The United Methodist Church
The full text of the religious leaders' letter to President Obama is at http://www.ELCA.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Justice/Advocacy/Issues/Israel-Palestine.aspx on the ELCA website.
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with approximately 4.5 million members in more than 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
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