Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East Urges Israel and the Palestinian Authority to Resume Peace Talks Immediately

President Mahmoud Abbas was received as a hero in Ramallah after he formally applied for full membership for Palestine in the United Nations last month. Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East ("Fair Witness") approves the obvious pride and sense of empowerment that this brought to the Palestinian people, but strongly cautions against the potential for frustration and even violence if deliberate steps towards a negotiated two-state solution are not taken by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"Having just returned from a trip to Israel and Palestine I can say unequivocally there is no substitute for negotiations," says Rev. Dr. James R. Noland, senior pastor of Reveille United Methodist Church in Richmond, VA. "Speeches at the U.N. are dramatic and inspirational but they will not lead to either statehood or peace unless both parties come together and negotiate a final status agreement."

"Fair Witness therefore strongly urges President Abbas to continue acting in the interest of his people and abandon unhelpful demands of preconditions to peace talks," continues Rev. Noland. "Similarly, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should show flexibility and a sincere commitment to peace by agreeing to a settlement freeze for a limited time to convince the Palestinians to resume negotiations."

Rev. David L Harvin, senior pastor of the Hay Street United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, also traveled to Israel and Palestine and adds: "Fair Witness believes that PM Netanyahu must do what his predecessors Barak and Olmert already did in 2000 and 2008 and give up the dream of ‘Greater Israel' by consenting, in the context of a negotiated final status agreement, to vacate those settlements that would interfere with Palestinian territorial contiguity. Likewise the Palestinians must finally agree to give up their demand for the "Right of Return" which would ultimately turn Israel into another Palestinian state if exercised by the inhabitants of refugee camps."

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