Trump-Netanyahu plan for Palestine and Israel 'an ultimatum, not a path to peace' says world churches head

(Photo: LWF/Marie Renaux)Olive tree in the Mount of Olives, East Jerusalem.

The World Council of Churches and The Lutheran World Federation, both with churches in the Holy Land, have criticized a proposal by U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for regional peace for the lack of consultation in their pitch.

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit on Jan. 29 urged the international community not to support the Trump-Netanyahu proposal for dividing up Palestine and Israel.

He said it is a "a plan developed with no meaningful participation from the Palestinian people."

The Lutheran World Federation which has around 74 million members, expressed grave concern on the same day over the "Peace to Prosperity" plan for Israel and Palestine presented by the U.S. administration.

"Peace can never be unilaterally imposed," write LWF president Archbishop Panti Filibus Musa, and LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge said in a Jan. 29 statement

In his statement Tveit said, "WCC urges members of the international community not to support this proposal or to recognize its implementation unless and until a better plan has been negotiated and agreed with representatives of the Palestinian people."

This he said must be "in compliance with the principles of international law regarding belligerent occupation and human rights," "This proposal was developed without meaningful participation by representatives of the Palestinian people, and primarily in line with long-stated Israeli objectives."


The proposal, called "Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of Palestinian and Israeli People," was presented on Jan. 28.

"It constitutes an ultimatum, rather than a real, sustainable or just solution," said Tveit. "Ultimately, any 'solution' that is not based on justice and negotiated agreement will be an imposition and an instrument of oppression."

The WCC said it continues to study the document and to receive analysis and reactions from member churches and partners in the region.

"This proposal recognizes might as right, and considers principles of international law, justice and accountability," said Tveit. "The territories 'allocated' to Palestinians under this plan are small isolated enclaves with no territorial contiguity, separated by Israeli settlements and connected only by bypasses under Israeli control."

The WCC said that it holds the "two-state solution" to be the best path forward towards peaceful co-existence for both Palestinians and Israelis.

"But it must be a real two-state solution, entailing the establishment of a viable, independent, self-governed Palestinian state, as foreseen in relevant UN resolutions, not simply renaming the current system of occupation and control as a Palestinian 'state,'" said Tveit.

"We call upon the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority the recommit to a process of dialogue and negotiations on these foundations."

For its part the LWF asserted that the plan ignores fundamental principles of international law and human rights conventions, as well as numerous UN General Assembly and UN Security Council resolutions, "setting a dangerous precedent for the future."

The LWF called upon the international community to take immediate actions to reduce human suffering of the Palestinian population, and LWF member churches to support the ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and the LWF World Service program in Jerusalem.

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