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PC(USA) Co-Moderator issues statement on move of U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

Anderson’s participation in Mosaic of Peace spurs response

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

T. Denise Anderson, co-moderator of the 222nd General Assembly 2016 of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. T. Denise Anderson, Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), recently returned from two weeks in Israel and Palestine as part of the Mosaic of Peace conference, a biennial event sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. Anderson raised several concerns in regard to the peace process and in light of yesterday’s move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

At least 60 Palestinian people have been killed by Israeli forces, and over 2,400 wounded, as Palestinians protested the embassy’s move. The deaths come at the culmination of six weeks of protests observing the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the Israeli military action in which three-quarter million Palestinians — Christian and Muslim — fled or were forced from their homes during the 1948 Palestinian war.

Anderson’s observations are below:


While in the Holy Land, we were intensely aware of the juxtaposition of both the dedication of the U. S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the massive Gaza protests, marked by the killing and maiming of hundreds of protesting Palestinians. No one could miss the irony in the fact that the weekend of May 15 marks not only the official founding of the nation-state of Israel, but also the 70th Anniversary of the “Nakba,” the catastrophic expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians who have been forcibly prevented from returning to their homes.

We have seen first-hand and heard from Palestinian and Israeli friends’ stories of repression of our Palestinian siblings, who continue to hope against hope to one day share the land as equals. We join with those who fear that the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem will make an already bad situation worse, especially with regard to the future of Jerusalem, the city holy to three faiths, and seen by the world as a shared symbol of the basis for peace in the region.

In December of 2017, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), stated that moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a grievous mistake.

Today, as the US government completes the Embassy’s relocation, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) re-affirms our belief that the move comes with no appreciable benefit but carries significant, potentially harmful, long-term ramifications for the stalled peace process.

Of particular concern is the unanswered witness of Palestinian Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem, who have reason to fear that, by tacitly legitimizing the internationally condemned actions taken to settle occupied East Jerusalem, the United States is “abdicating all credibility as a mediator in the region.”  In the face of the exacerbation of existing tensions in the region engendered by breaking the “Iran Deal,” the move of the U. S. Embassy does not serve the best interests of global stability, nor of the U.S. and its allies.

As noted in the Stated Clerk’s December statement, United Nations’ actions seeking an end to the occupation of Palestine include:

  • UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (II), which designated Jerusalem as a whole and its environs as “a corpus separatum under [a special] international regime,” to be administered by the UN.
  • UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which affirmed the free access for worship and right of return or compensation for refugees.
  • UN Security Council Resolution 476, which stated that “measures which have altered the geographic, demographic and historical character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem are null and void” and “constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), stands firmly with the United Nations in its attempts to frame this situation with honest dialogue, to respect Geneva Convention standards for the exercise of power in occupied territories, and to be witnesses to violations within those territories no matter who commits the violations.

It is my constant prayer and urgent hope that the Trump Administration will be discerning and faithful in relation to international law, in promoting stability and security through diplomacy, and for the causes of peace and justice at home and abroad. The mother of peace is justice. It is unrealistic, misguided, and dangerous to believe we can ever embrace the child apart from her mother. Support for Palestinians and Israelis alike cannot be divorced from an insistence on just actions.

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