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Statement on the Middle East

   

April 26, 2002

The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien
Prime Minister of Canada
Government of Canada
Ottawa, ON

The Honourable Bill Graham
Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Government of Canada
Ottawa, ON

Dear Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Graham:

The General Board of Mennonite Church Canada met today with a deep concern for the peace of the world. Our hearts are particularly heavy as we observe the Israeli/Palestinian violence about which we receive daily reports from workers serving there under Mennonite Central Committee and Christian Peacemaker Teams. Our church is a member of both bodies.

We deplore both the suicide bombings by some Palestinians against Israelis and the military action of Israel against the Palestinian people. These actions have claimed hundreds of lives, all of which we grieve. The recent aggressive actions by Israeli forces in Jenin and other Palestinian cities are especially troublesome in their extent, destructiveness, and severity.

We thank you, as leaders of the Canadian people, for your bold statements calling for an end to violence by all parties in this conflict. We urge you, at the same time, to press for a resolution of the basic issues. In our view this means that Israel must withdraw from all the territories that it took in the 1967 war, that Israel’s security and Palestine’s security, within those borders, must be respected by all parties, and that there must be a just resolution of the refugee situation.

This framework, as you will know, is the essence of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and the General Assembly resolution 194. It is also reflected in the recent proposal of the League of Arab States. We urge you, as a way of moving toward this end, to insist on compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention, to seek an increase in unarmed monitors there, to press for a larger role for the United Nations, and to urge the United States government to commit itself to this approach.

We are calling the members of Mennonite Church Canada and our sister church, Mennonite Church USA, to prayer and action for peace-building. We recently sent an extra Christian Peacemaker Team delegation to the region in response to a request from Palestinian residents in Hebron. Our people have also sent material aid and are ready to provide more whenever and wherever possible.

We will continue to pray for you, our government leaders, and for all who have power to influence events. May God enable you to act with courage for the well-being of all.

Sincerely,

Ron Sawatsky, Moderator