Churches for Middle East Peace, a coalition of church communions and organizations that works to encourage U.S. policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East, released a letter to Congress on June 2, “opposing unilateral annexation of the Occupied West Bank.” The Christian Reformed Church is a member of CMEP. Colin P. Watson Sr., acting executive director of the CRCNA signed the letter along with 26 other Christian leaders.
“We are writing to you as faith leaders who are deeply concerned by the announcement of Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel that annexation of West Bank land could begin as early as July of this year. ... Unilateral annexation of occupied Palestinian land by the State of Israel is not in the cause of a just peace; annexing thirty percent or more of the West Bank would entrench inequalities and abuses of Palestinians’ human rights for the foreseeable future,” the letter reads.
The coalition of churches has previously spoken out against annexation and action that excludes engagement with representatives from the Palestinian Authority. In September 2019, CMEP sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, ahead of the release of his administration’s Peace to Prosperity proposal. Steven Timmermans, at that time executive director of the CRC, was one of the 22 leaders to sign the September letter.
Explaining continued participation, Watson said, “As requested by our synods over the years, the CRCNA continues to pray and speak out for Palestinian Christians in the Middle East. … Numerous other denominations and organizations, including the Reformed Church in America, participate with (Churches for Middle East Peace), as well, and are supportive of this work. We signed this statement out of Christian solidarity with them and out of a desire for peace in the region.”
The leaders who signed the June 2 letter have asked congress “to wield its power of the purse and not allow any United States funds provided to Israel to be used for the recognition, facilitation or support of annexation, or for denial of Palestinian rights and violation of international law, including continuing occupation.”
Closing the letter, the leaders wrote: “The United States has a moral responsibility to promote human rights, justice and peace, both at home and abroad. We are now looking to our Congressional leaders to assure that our country acts courageously and makes clear that annexation undermines the rule of law and is morally unacceptable.”
For background on how the Christian Reformed Church, through its Office of Social Justice, has responded to work on Middle East Peace see justice.crcna.org/middle-east-peace-church-speaks.