Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church recognize the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination and to live as sovereign peoples in their homeland, with full human and civil rights and with democratic rule of one person, one vote; and be it further
Resolved, That the Episcopal Church reaffirm our commitment to a negotiated solution between the two parties guided by international law and supported by the international community; and be it further
Resolved, That the Episcopal Church acknowledge that such a peace agreement, agreed upon by both parties, may include a two-state solution as envisioned in the Oslo Accords, leading to a viable, sovereign state for Palestinians, comprising the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, alongside a secure and universally recognized State of Israel, or may encompass other solutions such as one binational state or confederation, recognizing that these possibilities are being raised as the material conditions for a two-state solution have deteriorated due to accelerated settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the Oslo Accords were signed; and be it further
Resolved, That no people’s right to self-determination should be exercised at the expense of another’s right to self-determination, and that any negotiated solution be founded upon mutual recognition of the humanity and past and present sufferings of both parties and provide guarantees for the human and civil rights of ethnic and religious minorities within any state, federation, or national boundaries that may be created.
The Episcopal Church has supported a two-state resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict since 1991, in resolution 1991-A147, and reaffirmed that commitment since the Oslo Accords I and II and the Gaza-Jericho Agreement were signed between 1993-1995, most recently in resolution 2012-B019.
Since then, facts on the ground have changed through the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Nearly 600,000 people now live in Israeli settlements in the West Bank (383,000) and East Jerusalem (205,000), – more than double the number of settlers living in those areas (263,000 total) in 1993 when the first Oslo Accord was signed. Today Israel controls over 42 percent of land in the West Bank and 80 percent of the water, and has demolished 15,000 Palestinian homes, water systems, and other facilities in the Occupied Territories since 1993.
Alarmingly, the Israeli parliament passed the “Settlement Regulation Law” in February 2017, which provides Israel with new legal means to seize privately-owned Palestinian land in the Occupied Territories in order to legalize settlement construction—effectively allowing land ownership rights in the Occupied Territories to be determined by Israeli domestic law.
The Settlement Regulation Law is being challenged in the Israeli High Court of Justice, and parts of it may be struck down, but this law was created in concert with the statements of governing coalition leaders, including cabinet members, that they intend to make the occupied West Bank and all of the illegal settlements within it “part of the State of Israel” (Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, June 2018) and that “the time has come to express our biblical right to the land” (Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan, December 2017).
In the wake of these developments, along with the Trump Administration’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem—since the status of Jerusalem was considered part of the peace negotiations under Oslo—Palestinian leaders have begun debating other options, including the possibility of a single state. Saeb Erekat, the experienced lead peace negotiator for Palestine, has publicly stated this year that the Palestinians should focus on achieving “one state with equal rights.”
With different options for a final status agreement being broadly discussed by leaders of both Israel and Palestine, it is prudent for the Episcopal Church to amend its official position as outlined in this resolution, while remaining committed to a negotiated settlement agreed upon by both parties that provides for self-determination for all peoples in the region.
Settlements, 11 November 2017.” B’Tselem, www.btselem.org/settlements. Accessed 20 June 2018.
“Comprehensive Settlement Population, 1972-2011.” Foundation for Middle East Peace, 13 January 2012, www.fmep.org/resource/comprehensive-settlement-population-1972-2010/. Accessed 20 June 2018.
“20 Facts: 20 Years Since the Oslo Accords.” Oxfam, 20 September 2013, www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/oxfam-oslo-20-factsheet.pdf. Accessed 20 June 2018.
“Israel’s Creeping Annexation Policies – Tables, 18 June 2018.” Foundation for Middle East Peace, www.fmep.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/Annexation-Policies.pdf. Accessed 20 June 2018.
“Bennett: The West Bank Will Soon Become Part of Israel.” The Middle East Monitor, 13 June 2018, www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180613-bennett-the-west-bank-will-soon-become-part-of-israel/, Accessed 20 June 2018.
Halbfinger, David. “Emboldened Israeli Right Presses Moves to Doom 2-State Solution.” The New York Times, 1 January 2018, www.nyti.ms/2DLmaOC. Accessed 20 June 2018.
Halbfinger, David. “As a 2-State Solution Loses Steam, a 1-State Plan Gains Traction.” The New York Times, 5 January 2018, www.nyti.ms/2Ec5yQn. Accessed 20 June 2018.
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