May 13, 2020
Palestinian Churches and the Global Kairos Network Respond to the Israeli Election
Another layer of denial has been stripped away from Israel's project to rob Palestinians of their land and their rights. In response to the coalition government agreement between Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Ganz, Palestinian Christian leaders have appealed to the world to put a stop to the ongoing annexation of Palestinian land. In this edition of Palestine Portal News we bring you these voices, as well as analysis by Jewish Israeli commentators about what is increasingly clear about their country's criminal intentions and illegal actions.

Meanwhile, calls to action have issued from the global network of kairos organizations in the face of this latest march toward the reality of a single apartheid state. In this edition we report on recent calls from the Kairos organizations of Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland. These three documents are remarkably similar in their unequivocal condemnation of Israel's actions and the specific actions called for. Echoing the desperate and urgent plea of the Palestinian church leaders contemplating the seeming inevitability of Israel's total dominance over Palestinians, these documents speak from the heart of the authors' commitment as Christians and as staunch defenders human rights. Visit Mapping the Movement to learn about and connect with these organizations and others like them.
Kairos Palestine Sounds an Alarm
The power sharing agreement between Netanyahu and Ganz removes the remaining political barriers to annexation of the Jordan Valley and yet to be determined portions of the West Bank. In response to this development, Kairos Palestine has issued a statement titled "Dire consequences of Israel's Coalition Government , " "Kairos Palestine," states the document, "raises an alarm regarding...a deal that directly threatens Palestinians’ freedom, health and human rights. Under the cover of a so-called 'coronavirus cabinet,' the State of Israel is empowered to continue its policies of home demolitions, closures, arrests, child detention and settler violence."

The statement lists specific steps for advocacy with their governments:

  • Demand that their governments refuse to recognize Israel’s annexations of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan and express their rejection of Israel’s further plans of annexation;
  • Insist that governments around the world and the Security Council of the United Nations apply measures to pressure Israel to comply with United Nations resolutions regarding Israel's obligations toward Palestinians; 
  • Protect Palestinians’—and all people’s—right to resist, including Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, until Israel complies with its obligations as an occupying power.
Voices of Palestinian Christians:
Stop Annexation!
" Donald Trump is complicit in a catastrophe for Christians," reads a powerful Opinion Piece by two leaders of Global Kairos for Justice, Father Jamal Khader and Reverend Munther Isaac. "I srael’s West Bank annexation policy," they write, "fueled by Trump’s 'peace plan,' may gratify extreme evangelicals, but is a mortal blow to the future of Christianity in the Holy Land." Let us be clear," the piece continues, "implementing the Trump plan would bring catastrophic consequences for the prospects of a political solution between Israelis and Palestinians, and particularly for the fulfillment of the rights of the Palestinian people, including Palestinian Christians."

Fr Khadar and Rev Isaac go on to present a succinct and detailed analysis of how the planned annexation, encouraged by the recent U.S. "Peace to Prosperity" plan, both negates the rights of non-Jewish faiths in the Holy Land and dooms the chances of a legitimate or enduring political settlement.

Fr. Jamal Khader is the Director of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Schools in Palestine and Parish Priest of Ramallah. Formerly he was the Rector of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary and Dean of Arts of Bethlehem University
Rev. Munther Isaac is Academic Dean of the Bethlehem Bible College and the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Beit Sahour.
The heads of thirteen Churches of the Holy Land have issued a statement concerning Israel's plans for Israel to annex West Bank land.

"The Council of Patriarchs and Heads of the Holy Land Churches views such unilateral annexation plans with the utmost concern and calls upon the State of Israel to refrain from such unilateral moves... The Council also calls upon the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the European Union, and the United Nations to respond to these annexation plans with a time delimited and phased Peace Initiative in line with International Law and United Nations resolutions on the matter, in order to guarantee a comprehensive, just, and long- lasting peace."

Analysis and Commentary from Jewish Israelis

For background and analysis on the coalition government agreement, see Ziv Stahl in +972 Magazine, "What will happen to Palestinian land the day after annexation?"
Jonathan Ofir In Mondoweiss provides the long view in "Why Israeli Elections Don't Make a Difference."

Also speaking the difficult truth in the face of wishful thinking and comforting distortions, here is the matchless Gideon Levy of Haaretz: "Let Israel Annex the West Bank. It's the Least Worst Option for Palestinians." 
Kairos Sweden:
Preserve International Law!
Kairos Palestine-Sweden and Swedish civil society leaders have called on the European Union and the government of Sweden to take action opposing the planned annexation of Palestinian territory by the new coalition government of Israel. Citing the precedent of sanctions imposed on Russia for the annexation of Crimea, The authors point out that "it would be unimaginable for the EU and the global community to accept a situation in which a large proportion of the population are to be deprived of their fundamental human rights. Under such conditions, with ongoing crimes against humanity, it is not just the right but the responsibility of the international community to intervene."

Pictured here, Rev Anna Karin Hammar of Kairos Palestine-Sweden and Global Kairos for Justice Europe holds a sign reading "Preserve International Law."
Sabeel-Kairos UK Call to Action
In response to the Israeli election and power sharing agreement, Sabeel-Kairos UK has produced a powerful Call to Action to British citizens. " Annexation may well go ahead on July 1st," reads the document, "despite international outcry. The world will be angry for a week, or maybe more, and then it will quietly return to normal. Relationships with Israel may be strained, but countries will continue to do what they have done for the last 72 years – to look away, and accept the status quo." "This is unacceptable," maintain the leaders of Sabeel-Kairos UK, calling on British citizens to take the following actions. Links to petitions and government contacts are included for each step:

  1. If your MPs have not signed the letter to Boris Johnson, please write to them, asking them to join the call for sanctions against Israel should it proceed with annexation.
  2. Write to your Church leaders, asking them to ensure that their Church’s investments are not supporting companies profiting from the occupation, and to divest immediately from companies that are.
  3. Support the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, taking up the suggested actions and boycotting those products, services and businesses that are profiting from the occupation.
  4. Spread the word. Use this opportunity to focus the world’s attention on Israel’s illegal actions. Share this statement and these actions with your friends, family, colleagues, Churches and more.

Rev John Parkin, Chairperson of Kairos Ireland, has issued a similarly urgent and strongly worded call to Irish citizens to respond to the planned annexation of Palestinian land. The letter makes specific reference to the Occupied Territories Bill pending in the Irish Parliament, which would prohibit trade with the illegally occupied territories in the same way that trade with apartheid South Africa was banned in the 1980s. The bill has received overwhelming support in the lrish Parliament. Rev Parkin's letter also points to legislative actions pending in the UK and in Sweden, urging citizens to urge their elected representatives in Parliament and the Foreign Minister to act to pass the Bill.

This just in: Mondoweiss' Philip Weiss interviews Palestinian American historian Rashid Khalidi about his new book, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017.
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