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May 14, 2020 7:26 am

Church Leaders in Jerusalem Weigh in on Peace Process

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avatar by Dexter Van Zile


An Orthodox Christian worshipper is silhouetted as he holds a palm frond outside the closed doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Orthodox Palm Sunday amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Jerusalem’s Old City April 12, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad/ FIle Photo.

The Heads of Churches in Jerusalem recently issued a statement warning Israel not to annex territory in the West Bank, because to do so would “bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process.”

Maybe annexing territory in the West Bank is a good idea, maybe it isn’t. That’s up for the Israelis to decide.

My employer, CAMERA, is a non-partisan organization that steers clear of policy prescriptions. Our goal is to ensure that media outlets and commentators get their stories factually right. In addition to challenging errors, we point out material omissions that deprive readers of the context they need to assess what’s really going on in the Middle East.

On that score, it’s my sad duty to inform the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem that they do not know what they are talking about.

The peace process is dead — deader than a doornail, and has been dead for a long time.

How do I know that? Because Palestinian leaders have been declaring it dead for the past quarter century.

In 1996, Palestinian Legislative Council member Haidar Abdel Shafi told Haaretz, ”The peace process has reached a dead end … a solution of no peace.” In June 1998, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, secretary-general of the Palestinian Authority, said, “The peace process is dead.”

Yasser Arafat told Iranian President Mohammad Khatami that ”The peace process is now dead” in August 2000.

In January 2012, Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian terrorist serving time in Israeli prison, declared that the peace process was dead. “The peace process has failed, it’s finished, it’s not worth desperately trying to resuscitate a corpse,” he wrote.

And Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the peace process was dead in 2014, in 2018, and again in 2019.

I’ve surely missed many examples of Palestinian elites declaring the peace process dead, but the point is made.

If the Palestinians say the peace process is dead, who are the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem to say otherwise?

In the same statement, the Heads of Churches declared that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) “the sole legitimate Representative of the Palestinian people” and called on the PLO to “resolve its internal disputes — as well as any conflicts with other factions that are not under its umbrella — in order to present a unified front dedicated to achieving peace and the building of a viable State that is founded upon pluralism and democratic values.”

In plain English, the Heads of Churches told members of the PLO to stop fighting among themselves and then make peace with Hamas — an organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction — so they can further a peace process that they themselves have been declaring dead for more than two decades.

Those are the only demands that the Heads of Churches made of the Palestinians. Nothing about pay-to-slay. Nothing about incitement. Nothing about violating the rights of the Palestinians they govern. Nothing about using Jew-hatred as a tool to distract rank-and-file Palestinians from the misdeeds of their corrupt, inept, authoritarian rulers.

In the Middle Ages, church fathers accused Jews of deicide.

These days, the accusation of choice is not much better.

Dexter Van Zile is Shillman Research Fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).

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