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PRESS RELEASE NO. 28
Younan Calls "Roadmap to Peace" a "Golden
is the "Only Hope" for the Oppressed
WINNIPEG, Canada, 29 July
In a press briefing at the Tenth Assembly of the
Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Rev. Dr Munib A. Younan, bishop
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan (ELCJ), declared that
the “Roadmap to Peace” is a “golden opportunity” to solve the
enormous problems in his troubled region of the Middle East. Younan
said that for the first time the United States is actively involved
in the peace process.
Younan also cited the fact that the Roadmap peace plan is the first
agreement that has achieved the backing of the essential “quartet”
of world partners: the United Nations, US, European Union and
Russia. But the true test of the Roadmap, cautioned Younan, will be
the fulfillment of certain benchmarks on the path to a full and free
Palestinian state stretching from the West Bank to the Jordan River,
existing side by side with Israel by 2005.
The Roadmap must also address the root issue of the illegal
occupation of Palestinian land by Israel. “That is a sin against God
and humanity,” declared Younan. “The occupation demoralizes both the
occupier – Israel – and the occupied – Palestine,” said the ELCJ
bishop. “We want security for Israelis and justice and liberation
for Palestinians,” he stressed.
Younan said the “world should confess that there has been injustice
against Palestinians in 1948, 1967 and injustice continues on. Once
this is confessed then the right of return should be dealt with
justly and fairly.”
Younan, whose church has congregations in Jordan, Palestine and
Israel, said those Israelis who wish to stay in the settlements are
welcome to do so, but under Palestinian rule. He sees such an
arrangement as an ideal outcome of the peace process.
He believes that Palestinian Christians have a special role to play
in the peace process – a role of reconciliation and helping
oppressed Palestinian people to achieve parity in the region.” We
want justice for both Palestinians and Israelis,” he noted.
It therefore concerns him greatly that Palestinian Christians, who
comprise less than 2 percent of the population, are emigrating out
of the region in large numbers. Around 1,600 of 16,000 Palestinian
Christian residents of the Bethlehem district are reported to have
moved out of the region in the last two years, Younan said. “What is
the Holy Land without Christians?” he asked. To counter this
hemorrhage, he stated, the ELCJ, with support from other
sources, must improve educational, medical and housing resources for
“The church is the only hope for the oppressed people of the
region,” declared Younan, “because a living church condemns
injustice." He went on, " I am worried about the physical wall,”
referring to the “security fence” that has recently been erected by
the Israeli army, “but there is an unseen wall of hatred that daily
grows higher and higher with every drop of bloodshed and injustice.”
He pointed to some successful efforts to promote understanding, such
as the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)
in which international volunteers spend three months working and
living side by side with Palestinian Christians.
Younan condemned the so called “Christian Zionism” movement as
“anti-reconciliation.” He said that
Christians should not seek a literal fulfillment of biblical
prophecy but rather Christ, who reconciles the world to himself.
In conclusion the ELCJ bishop said that Christians living in other
parts of the world can help in very concrete ways to bring about
justice and peace in his region. First and foremost, “Pray,” he
declared. In addition, he asked that people advocate for the peace
process; send others or visit as EAPPI participants and support
educational, medical and housing programs for Palestinians, so that
they can remain as citizens of Palestine.
Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is taking place
21-31 July 2003 in Winnipeg, Canada, under the theme "For the
Healing of the World." It is being hosted by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).
There are around 820 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth
Assembly including 380 delegates from the
133 churches with full membership and three associate members. The Assembly is the highest
decision-making body of the LWF, and meets normally every six years.
Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by its Council that meets
annually, and by its Executive Committee.
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