EU urged to oppose proposed 'Greater Jerusalem' legislation by World Council of Churches

(Photo: Peter Williams/WCC)Jerusalem skyline showing al-Aqsa Mosque.

The World Council of Churches has written to the European Union to express great concern over a proposed "Greater Jerusalem" legislative initiative whereby Israel's Knesset may render a two-state solution impossible.

The council has a long history of advocacy and action for peace with justice in Israel and Palestine, WCC general secretary Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit Tveit wrote to Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

"We deeply regret the recent trajectory of developments in the region that renders this objective more and more distant," the Oct. 26 letter reads.

It "undermines the hopes and legitimate aspirations of people who have been living under occupation for 50 years," said Tveit.

"It is therefore with great concern that we observe the proposed Greater Jerusalem legislative initiative whereby the Knesset may render the two-state solution impossible."

A bill that critics say would amount to de facto annexation of Israeli settlements surrounding Jerusalem is expected to go before ministers on Oct. 29, AFP reported.

The bill has drawn harsh criticism from Palestinians and those hoping to salvage the two-State solution.

The bill would absorb major Israeli settlements currently in the occupied West Bank into Jerusalem by enlarging the city limits.

Its opponents have argued that it is a step towards full unilateral annexation of the West Bank settlements affected, which is likely to trigger international condemnation.

Tveit in his letter notes that Christians are called by their faith to speak out when human dignity and rights are being violated.

The WCC is concerned that the proposed Greater Jerusalem legislation may threaten the human rights of the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem and the Bedouins in the part known as area C.

It is also troubled at the prospects for realization of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines.

Tveit said the WCC believes the proposed legislation threatens to worsen the living conditions of both Palestinians and Bedouins in the affected areas.

"It is of utmost importance that the EU, as a major voice for upholding international law, vigorously protests the proposed legislation," his letter reads.

"On behalf of the WCC's member churches and partners around the world, I appeal to you to speak out urgently and clearly against this regressive and destructive initiative, that would do so much to undermine the EU's own engagement for a just and sustainable peace in the region."

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