Middle East Study Committee FAQ: The urgency of our report

Originally published on the PC(USA) webpage. Why did the Middle East Study Committee (MESC) issue its report now?

Since 1948, the PC(USA) and its predecessor denominations have issued reports and recommendations with regard to the Middle East. In 2008, the General Assembly mandated the formation of this committee asking it to report back to the 219th General Assembly (2010). After careful and thorough work, the MESC has presented its report for consideration.

What about the situation demands “urgency,” as the committee calls it?

Time and time again the MESC heard from voices saying that the opportunity for the two-state solution is disappearing. Many of the MESC had traveled to the region before and echoed this with their own experiences, noting how much more entrenched the settlement infrastructure in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (not to mention the ongoing siege of Gaza and its dire humanitarian crisis) has become. The PC(USA) has historically committed itself to the two-state solution, joining the international consensus behind this as the best option to a long-term peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The MESC recommendations support that option. However, the window is rapidly closing to make this a reality.

How can the committee possibly make recommendations on a situation that changes day-to-day?

Thus the urgency. Since the MESC was approved by the 2008 General Assembly, more than 20 Israelis and more than 1500 Palestinians have died needlessly due to violence. The situation may change, but by the time the 2010 General Assembly meets, it is almost certain that this death toll will rise. With every military and militant attack, with every settlement, with every escalation of rhetoric and with every death, the stakes simply increase. Not solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not an option. Waiting is not an option. The time for action is now.

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With whom did the Committee speak?