FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. - May 25, 2021
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Applauds Ceasefire, Urges Resolution to Underlying Issues
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) applauds the much-needed ceasefire between the State of Israel and Hamas which began Friday, May 21. During the two weeks prior to the ceasefire, 12 Israelis and at least 230 Palestinians were killed. We uplift in prayer all families in Israel-Palestine who are mourning the loss of loved ones. Every moment without bombings and rockets saves innocent lives.
The underlying causes for this most recent round of violence remain unresolved. Violence at al-Aqsa mosque continued even after the ceasefire went into effect, violating the Status Quo and Muslims' right to worship in peace. Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, including in Sheikh Jarrah, continue to face pending evictions. And while the immediate violence in Gaza has stopped, the blockade remains in place, and thousands of people in Gaza have been displaced from their homes. Antisemitic violence and hate crimes against both Jews and Muslims are on the rise around the world as a by-product of this recent war.
We grieve the recent round of antisemitic attacks resulting from this past weeks' violence. CMEP strongly opposes any actions that dehumanize, stereotype, or incite distrust or violence based on religious or ethnic identity must end immediately.
In light of these ongoing realities, CMEP calls on the Biden Administration to adopt a set of policies that will help not only maintain the current ceasefire, but also address the systemic injustices, end the occupation, and encourage a just and sustainable future for all in Israel-Palestine. Without such action, we fear future violence is inevitable. Specifically, we ask the Biden Administration to:
- Publicly declare that Israeli settlements are illegal and that the U.S. opposes all settlement activity, including in occupied East Jerusalem.
- Intervene directly with the Israeli Government to ensure the cancellation of all pending eviction orders in East Jerusalem immediately.
- Call for a review to determine whether any U.S. sourced weapons and equipment have been used to demolish Palestinian homes or structures in contravention of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
- Maintain a strong commitment to upholding religious freedom for Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the city of Jerusalem and to condemn the global rise of antisemitism and anti-Islamic hate crimes.
In the short term, the Biden Administration must ensure humanitarian assistance and goods can enter Gaza to help with the immediate infrastructure needs. We also call on the President to halt the recently approved sale of $735 million in new weapons to Israel. At this moment, sending additional weapons undermines efforts to work toward an end to the violence and suffering. The ceasefire and humanitarian assistance cannot accomplish a lasting peace unless the underlying factors of the conflict are systematically addressed.
Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of 30 national church communions and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical traditions that works to encourage US policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. CMEP works to mobilize US Christians to embrace a holistic perspective and to be advocates of equality, human rights, security, and justice for Israelis, Palestinians, and all people of the Middle East.