21 November 2019
The Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference, has released a statement following the US Government announcement on settlements
As President of the Methodist Conference I have recently had the privilege of visiting and talking with many people in Israel and the West Bank. Other colleagues from the Methodist Connexional Team and Global Relations have supported long-term relationships in the region and Gaza. The many people we have spoken with recognise that compromises will be required of both communities to achieve a lasting peace, but I am concerned that comments by the US government that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not illegal may cause further destabilisation of the region.
In visiting the West Bank I heard how the expansion of settlements has caused the demolition of Palestinian houses and schools. In Hebron I could see the expansion upwards over the top of Palestinian businesses and houses. Settlements are cutting off Palestinian communities and further restricting freedom of movement. They compromise the ambition for economic prosperity and a secure future for all. The current expansion of the military occupation of the West Bank apparently pushes the search for a resolution even further into the future.
In 2015, the UN Security Council again insisted that Israeli settlements in the West Bank “have no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law.” Feeling powerless in their situation, the Palestinians I spoke with appealed for international support to help them live peaceful lives and achieve self-determination. I know there are many Israelis, including some that I met, who are also longing for a lasting peace. It is therefore of great concern to read of the recent actions of the US government in relation to the region.
I add my voice to the many who are challenging the recent actions of the U.S. government. This situation is not simply about international politics but about ordinary people searching for a peaceful means to live together.
On behalf of the Methodist Church I urge the UK government, along with others, to impress on the Government of Israel that the continued military occupation is unacceptable at both a political and a human level.