World churches body seeks peace prayers for Israelis and Palestinians

(Photo: REUTERS / Mussa Qawasma)An Israeli army soldier shoots tear gas at Palestinian stone throwers near the house of Palestinian woman Amal Taqatqa, south of the West Bank city Bethlehem December 1, 2014. Amal Taqatqa stabbed an Israeli in the occupied West Bank on Monday and was then shot and wounded by security forces, the military and police said. Violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories has risen in the past months. Attacks carried out by Palestinians have killed 11 Israelis. Twelve Palestinians have been killed, including several of the assailants.

The World Council of Churches is praying this week with Jews and Muslims that there be no hostilities among neighbors in Israel and Palestine at a time of heightened tension between them.

"It is our sincere desire and prayer, shared with many Jews and Muslims, that there should be no hostilities among neighbours in Israel and Palestine, and beyond, in the whole Middle East region," said the World Council of Churches general secretary, Rev.Olav Fykse Tveit.

He said in this his message for the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, from September 21 to 27 that the theme this year is, "God has broken down the dividing walls."

The call for the prayers come at a time of rising hosilities between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land.

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Israeli forces shot a female Palestinian attacker after she attempted to stab a soldier at a West Bank checkpoint on Sept. 22, the military said, as tensions continued to simmer ahead of this week's major Jewish and Muslim holidays, The Associated Press reported.

The latest tensions have boiled over around Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, a holy site for both Judaism and Islam.

"We pray and work for the peace desperately needed by both Palestinians and Israelis," said Tveit.

A recent survey conducted in the West Bank and Gaza shows that 51 per cent of Palestinians oppose the two-State solution, Reuters news agency reported.

More than half of all Palestinians no longer support a two-State solution to the conflict with Israel, a survey released Sept. 21showed, rejecting the goal that has underpinned four decades of international diplomacy.

The poll was carried out by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, a leading research group in the Palestinian territories that found only 48 per cent of Palestinians support as two-State solution.

In his message, Tveit brings to the attention the hard reality of the Palestinians, especially the Christians, suffering from the impact of a wall separating them from Israel.

Tviet said that on Sept. 26 Christians will gather at Beir Ouna in the Cremisan Valley, a land close to Bethlehem.

"This gathering of faithful Christians will take place under the eye of Israeli security forces there to protect the equipment being used to remove centuries-old olive trees from land owned by Palestinian Christians to make way for the latest segment of Israel's separation barrier."

"This strategic, nonviolent witness is intended to confront not only those individual soldiers and police but the unjust structures and systems supporting Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land."

Tveit noted, "The global church effort to promote awareness and advocacy informed by the perspectives of Christians in Palestine and Israel is growing."

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