Bishop Declan Lang has warned that an Israeli plan to unilaterally annex West Bank land would destroy any hope of a peaceful two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
Bishop Lang’s warning came in response to a letter sent by patriarchs and Church leaders in the Holy Land on the Israeli Unilateral Annexation Plans.
The leaders warn that the move to annex West Bank land raises ‘serious and catastrophic questions about the feasibility of any peaceful agreement to end the decades’ long conflict’.
Bishop Lang, Chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales’ International Affairs department, has now reiterated their warning and insisted that the Catholic Church in England and Wales is opposed to the move.
“As the local Church leaders have warned, annexation would destroy any hope of a peaceful two-state solution,” he said.
“The Catholic Church in England and Wales will continue to stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Holy Land against any such move.”
The patriarchs’ and leaders’ letter:
Statement: Israeli Unilateral Annexation Plans
7 May 2020
As a result of the stagnation of the Peace Process in the Middle East between the Israelis and Palestinians, an array of plans for Israel to unilaterally annex West Bank land, backed mainly by right-wing factions, raises serious and catastrophic questions about the feasibility of any peaceful agreement to end the decades’ long conflict, one that continues to cost many innocent lives as part of a vicious cycle of human tragedy and injustice.
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, which would bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process.
The Council also calls upon the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the European Union, and the United Nations to respond to these unilateral 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 in this part of the world that is considered Holy by the three Abrahamic Faiths.
We also call upon the Palestinian Liberation Organization, as the sole legitimate Representative of the Palestinian people, 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.
Patriarch Theophilos III
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Patriarch Nourhan Manougian
Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa
Apostolic Administrator, Latin Patriarchate
Fr Francesco Patton, OFM
Custos of the Holy Land
Archbishop Anba Antonious
Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
Vicar General Father Gabriel Daho
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Aba Embakob
Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Yaser Al-Ayash
Archbishop Mosa El-Hage
Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
Archbishop Suheil Dawani
Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bishop Ibrahim Sani Azar
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
Father Ephram Samaan
Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
Rt Rev. Joseph Nerses Zabarian
Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
Picture: New housing units being built in the Israeli settlement Efrat are seen on the hillside overlooking a Palestinian village near Bethlehem, West Bank, on 10th May 2020. The settlement would be included in the proposed annexation plan by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill).