Statement from the Secretary General
Dr. William F. Vendley
Call for an Immediate Israeli-Palestinian Ceasefire
5 January 2009
The killing and injuring of innocent people in Gaza must stop, as must the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.
It is deeply mistaken to believe that the current path of armed conflict will bring peace. It will not. Violence breeds more violence, increases human suffering and delays the long, hard work of building a just peace.
Peace can come to the Middle East, but only by honoring the rights of both the Palestinians and Israelis, facilitating painful but honorable compromises through sustained dialogue, and engaging the moral convictions shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims who know the Holy Land to be their common home.
Morally responsible Israelis and Palestinians know that the “right to self defense” can never be used as an excuse for killing, harming or inflicting collective punishment on innocent civilians. These abuses fuel the spiral of violence.
In Gaza, scores of innocent civilians, including many children, have been killed over the last few days. Military action has split Gaza in two, with innocent civilians trapped in the crossfire. The entire population is under siege. Already desperately short of medicine, food and fuel, the residents of Gaza now face an extremely grave humanitarian crisis.
In Israel, innocent civilians continue to be mortally threatened by the ongoing rocket attacks against them.
Neither the suffering of so many innocent Palestinians nor the attacks and suicide bombings targeting innocent Israelis can be justified. These acts are morally wrong, fuel cycles of violence and block the path to peace.
The Israeli and Palestinian leaders must initiate an immediate ceasefire. Additional urgently needed provisions and humanitarian supplies must be provided to the Palestinians in Gaza. At the same time, peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, with the full assistance of principled third parties, must begin.
Finally, Jews, Christians and Muslims, supported by the goodwill of believers of all religious faiths, should unite in their efforts to build peace. Religions for Peace knows that real security is “shared security” and that the other’s peace is also their own. In the Middle East, there will be no peace for anyone unless there is peace with justice for all.
Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970. Headquartered in New York and accredited to the United Nations, Religions for Peace works through affiliated inter-religious councils in 70 countries in six continents.