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The Church of Scotland is supporting the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI), which began on Monday May 28.

The WWPPI was created by the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and seeks to make a common witness of worship, educational events and acts of advocacy to support the end of the Israeli occupation, and achieve a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis.

The WWPPI message is: 

  • It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.
  • It’s time for freedom from occupation.
  • It’s time for equal rights.
  • It’s time for the healing of wounded souls.
  • It’s time for Palestine.

The Church of Scotland has encouraged its congregations to organise an event and plan activities around the three principles of the week: 

  • Praying with churches living under occupation, using a special prayer from Jerusalem and other worship resources prepared for the week.
  • Educating about actions that make for peace, and about facts on the ground that do not create peace, especially issues related to displacement.
  • Advocating with political leaders using ecumenical policies that promote peace with justice.

As a support for WWPPI, the Church of Scotland’s Heart & Soul event, which took place in Princess Street Gardens during the General Assembly, welcomed George Stephen from the Middle East Council of Churches in Jerusalem and Rev Khaled Freij, a Palestinian who is a Jordanian citizen and minister to a congregation of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

In front of an eight metre high replica of the Separation Wall that Israel has built to surround Bethlehem, they shared stories of what it is like for their families, friends and neighbours to live in the shadow of this barrier. The replica Wall attracted a lot of attention and comment from visitors on the day, most were stunned by the size of it.

The Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council submitted a report on Gaza to the 2012 General Assembly. The full report examines the humanitarian situation there in detail and is available at www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/9587/Gaza_final.pdf. The General Assembly agreed that the Church of Scotland should continue to play its part by standing in solidarity with all who wish to see a just and fair settlement for Palestinian and Israeli alike.

Also during the General Assembly, Jewish American author Mark Braverman spoke at an event titled ‘When politics fails: the role of the churches in bringing a just peace to Palestine and Israel’ where he spoke of the essential role of the churches in confronting power and holding fast for truth and being tenacious in the struggle for freedom and dignity for all.

One example of that will take place Friday June 1. In an act of non-violent resistance, local and international Christians will gather to celebrate holy communion in the orchard of the historic Cremisan monastery near Bethlehem. It is an area where Israel plans to confiscate more land in order to extend what the International Court of Justice termed the “illegal” separation barrier.

The 2011 WWPPI saw churches in more than 20 countries around the world send a clear signal to policy-makers, community groups, and their own parishes about the urgent need for a peace settlement that ends the illegal occupation and secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples.

For more information visit www.wwppi.org.

The Jerusalem Prayer for Sunday June 3 is available at http://www.oikoumene.org/en/programmes/public-witness-addressing-power-affirming-peace/churches-in-the-middle-east/pief/world-week/the-jerusalem-prayer.html.

To join the new World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel Facebook group, click here.