Middle East study team nears release of its final report to this summer’s General Assembly

Middle East study team nears release of its final report to this summer’s General Assembly Will recommend urgent action on Israel/Palestine

LOUISVILLE – The Special Committee to Prepare a Comprehensive Study Focused on Israel/Palestine concluded its fourth and final meeting as a committee on Saturday, January 30, 2010, after working to finalize its report to the 219th General Assembly (2010).

Distressed by the closing window on a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, the committee will recommend calling for an immediate end to the Occupation; endorsing the Kairos Palestine document’s emphases on hope, love, non-violence, and reconciliation; and urging the U.S. government to take swift action toward a just peace.

The nine-member committee had times of vigorous deliberations over the course of their two-day meeting. In the end, all but one of the committee members voted to approve the recommendations to the assembly.

“This committee brings such a diversity of opinion and a wealth of experience from the region of our concern,” said the Reverend Ron Shive (Salem Presbytery), who chairs the committee. “Given the variety of personal experience we bring to these conversations, the fact that we were able to reach such strong consensus on our report and recommendations demonstrates the unity of the Spirit and our witness for justice and peace for all peoples.”

The committee was established by the 218th General Assembly (2008) to “prepare a comprehensive study, with recommendations, focused on Israel/Palestine within the complex context of the Middle East.” The Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of that assembly, appointed the members in consultation with the previous past two Moderators.

“Since our first meeting,” said Shive, “we have heard from many voices and perspectives and have done our best to discern God’s call in this moment.”

The committee gathered previously in New York and Washington, where members met with political and religious representatives of the Israeli, Palestinian, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities.

In August 2009, the committee traveled through Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, and met with Iraqi Christians who came to Beirut to join them. “We have heard these calls for justice and security,” said Shive, “which are so often amplified by their experiences of personal trauma.”

He continued, “Of the many things we want to communicate, we hope that the urgency of the moment comes through most strongly. We have witnessed firsthand the shrinking Christian community throughout the region and the fading hope for a just two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.”

“The time for action is now,” said Shive.

The committee’s final report will be available to the public in February. The 219th General Assembly will meet July 3-10, 2010, in Minneapolis.

In addition to Shive, the team members are the Reverends Susan R. Andrews (Hudson River Presbytery), John Huffman (Los Ranchos Presbytery), Rebecca Reyes (New Hope Presbytery), Marthame Sanders (Greater Atlanta Presbytery), and Byron Shafer (New York City Presbytery); and elders Frederic W. Bush (Los Ranchos Presbytery), Nahida H. Gordon (Muskingum Valley Presbytery), and Lucy Janjigian (Palisades Presbytery).

OGA Press Release, available here.