World Council of Churches - News Release
Contact: +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@wcc-coe.org


For immediate release - 12/04/2006 05:17:20 PM

WCC ASKS EUROPEAN UNION TO GIVE NEW PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY MORE TIME


The World Council of Churches (WCC) is urging the European Union to exercise "respect for the democratic mandate given by [the recent Palestinian] elections and time for the new government to find its feet and demonstrate its intentions," following the Council of the European Union's endorsement of a temporary halt to direct aid to the Palestinian government headed by Hamas.

An 11 April WCC letter from WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia to the chairperson of the Council of the European Union, Austrian foreign minister Dr Ursula Plassnik, warns of the likelihood "of increasing suffering and new dangers to peace ahead" as a consequence of "decisions being taken these very days by the EU and other members of the [UN Security Council's Middle East] Quartet".

At its 10-11 April meeting in Luxembourg, the EU Council confirmed that it was "reviewing its assistance to the Palestinians" as a result of its "grave concern" that the new Palestinian government had "not committed itself [] to non-violence, recognition of Israel's right to exist and acceptance of existing agreements". It warned that the absence of such commitment would affect direct assistance to the government, yet noted that the EU would continue to provide assistance to meet the basic needs of the Palestinian population.

The 11 April WCC letter refers to an earlier, 8 February 2006, letter from the WCC to members of the UN Security Council's Middle East Quartet. That letter called on the Quartet to exercise "constructive patience" and work in new ways to meet the situation emerging from the Palestinian elections which, as "an earnest exercise of democratic rights," offers "opportunities for genuine progress towards peace".

Insisting that both Israelis and Palestinians have to be held to equitable terms and conditions for resolution of their conflict under international law, the WCC reaffirmed its long-standing condemnation of "all forms of violence against civilians". "If violence is incompatible with democracy and with peace, it is incompatible for both the Israeli and the Palestinian authorities," the 8 February letter said.

Full text of 8 February 2006 letter to UN Security Council's "Middle East Quartet":
http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=1865

The WCC and Palestine/Israel:
http://wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/regconcerns-palestine-israel.html

Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@wcc-coe.org

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 348 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.