The Holy Land – Israel/Palestine

STATEMENT ON DECISION BY ICJ statement   Jan 31st, 2024 Brussels

While it applauds the decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Pax Christi International remains steadfast in its call for an immediate ceasefire and the safe return of all hostages. The staggering loss of life and unfathomable misery visited upon the innocent Gazan population, nearly half of whom are children, must end now.    Read the full statement   HERE

SEVERAL COUNTRY DONORS HAVE RECENTLY WITHDRWAN THEIR SUPPORT FROM UNRWA   Do you know the difference between UNRWA and UNHCR ?

In the wake of several large donors withdrawing their support for UNRWA recently Jonathan Cook examines the history of the organisation. He writes on X (formerly Twitter):  ‘UNRWA is separate from the UN’s main refugee agency, the UNHCR, and deals only with Palestinian refugees. Although Israel does not want you to know it, the reason for there being two UN refugee agencies is because Israel and its western backers insisted on the division back in 1948.

Why? Because Israel was afraid of the Palestinians falling under the responsibility of the UNHCR’s forerunner, the International Refugee Organisation. The IRO was established in the immediate wake of the Second World War in large part to cope with the millions of European Jews fleeing Nazi atrocities.

Israel did not want the two cases treated as comparable, because it was pushing hard for Jewish refugees to be settled on lands from which it had just expelled Palestinians. Part of the IRO’s mission was to seek the repatriation of European Jews. Israel was worried that very principle might be used both to deny it the Jews it wanted to colonise Palestinian land and to force it to allow the Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes.’

To read on see: www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2024-01-30/war-un-refugee-israel-genocide/

BETHLEHEM: BETWEEN DESPAIR AND HOPE        In a video made this January young people speak about their concerns, their prayers, hopes and trust in God for the future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzLAn2nj8RM 

This short film from the Media Office of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. shows the city of Bethlehem and its people after 100 days of war.   The city which is dependent on pilgrims and tourists for its livelihood, was virtually closed for many months during the Covid pandemic. Things were just settling back to normal when the 7 October attack took place and the onslaught on Gaza and West Bank began. Christmas was ‘cancelled’ and the streets have been empty, shops and hotels closed ever since.

CELEBRATING 170 YEARS 

2023 was another very difficult year for many of our Middle Eastern partners and the communities they serve. We earnestly pray that 2024 will bring peace, healing and hope. But whatever awaits, we will continue to stand with them – as we have done since our foundation back in 1854. That’s right, this year Embrace is an incredible 170 years old! From its beginning as the Turkish Missions Aid Society, we remember the generations of people whose lives have been changed by the charity’s work, and ask for your continued prayers for all who experience poverty, marginalisation and conflict today.  Sign up for our Weekly Devotion to find Bible verses and a reflection to guide your prayer.  HERE

A PRAYER FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST  from The Very Reverend William B Lane is a retired Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem PA and is presently active in the Episcopal Church in Delaware. He is a founding member of Delaware Churches for Middle East Peace and has been in Palestine/Israel on numerous occasions.

Let Us Pray:    Almighty God, we pray that the blessings of justice and peace be realized in the land of Israel/Palestine; and that our nation be an instrument in achieving, not hindering, those blessings. May the sword give way to the plowshare and hostility to respect. You have created Palestinian and Israeli alike in your image, establishing the dignity and humanity of both. One is not more precious in your sight than the other. So, may the peacemakers not grow weary, and the seekers of justice not give up the search. The acceptable time for justice and peace is always now, there is never an unacceptable time. In the words of your servant Amos: Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Holy God, hear our prayer. Amen.

Read his comments on ‘The Promise of Oslo, 30 years later’ on https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/47948     Sept 2023

Read regular updates on Israel Palestine 
https://embraceme.org/embrace-iopt-partner-updates?

A GARDEN TOUR  of the Bethlehem Palestine Museum of Natural History. It features the gardens, animals, sustainable growing practices and much more. The film is narrated by Mazin Qumsiyeh the founder of the museum.