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LWF Tenth Assembly Public Statement Affirms "Roadmap" as Golden Opportunity for Middle East Peace

Support of Major World Powers Offers New Hope for Separate, Equal States of Israel and Palestine

WINNIPEG, Canada, 31 July 2003 – On the final full day of the Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) delegates unanimously approved a public statement regarding the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. In part the statement endorses the "Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East" as offering true potential for a solution in the strife-torn Middle East, provided that certain benchmarks are met.

The Rev. Dr Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan (ELCJ) which includes Lutheran congregations in Palestine and Israel, read the statement aloud on the Assembly floor.

The statement affirms "all persons of good will" in their quest for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine and denounces all activities that hinder Palestinian independence.

It cites the "Roadmap for Peace" recently ratified by the essential "quartet" of world partners (United Nations, the United States, European Union and Russia) as a golden opportunity for a peaceful two-state solution to this historic conflict. The statement declares that this new level of involvement by major world powers gives legitimacy to the process.

The "benchmarks" called for by the Assembly as prerequisites to the establishment of a full and free Palestinian state contiguous to Israel by 2005 include the military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the issue of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their homes, fair distribution of water resources, the immediate razing of the wall, or "security fence," constructed by the Israeli army in Jerusalem and religious freedom for all.

The Assembly statement also calls upon member churches in the worldwide LWF communion to support the ELCJ’s efforts in inter-religious dialogue, as well as the development of community-based education and housing that will encourage Palestinian Christians to stay in their country instead of emigrating out of the area. It further urges the international community of churches to support programs that build awareness of the situation, such as the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel that sends volunteers to live and work in the region for three months.

The statement also calls for a favorable resolution by the government of Israel to the current crisis concerning the tax status of LWF’s Augusta Victoria Hospital, which serves primarily Palestinians.

The Tenth 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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