Jewish agencies condemn church groups’ resolution on Israel

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(RNS) Two major Jewish advocacy groups denounced as one-sided and unfair a resolution by the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches  urging Israel to withdraw from territories it occupies.

The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League characterized the resolution as “profoundly” disappointing.

“What could have been a powerful plea for peacemaking turned reflexively into a familiar and factually feeble denunciation of Israel from two groups with a long history of anti-Israel bias,” the American Jewish Committee said on its website.

On Wednesday (Sept. 14), the WCC and the NCC passed a statement calling for an end to the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, saying peace cannot be established until Israel does so. In fact, Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

WCC General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit and NCC General Secretary and President Jim Winkler said, “We are also well aware that Israel is the occupying force and has commanding power over the people of Palestine and, thus, bears special responsibility for taking the initiative.”

The joint WCC and NCC statement comes after the Presbyterian Church USA passed a similar resolution, pressuring Israel to withdraw from those territories.

The joint statement also asks the U.S. government to reconsider its proposed $38 billion military aid package to Israel and to end the current wave of legislative efforts to penalize nonviolent economic measures intended to influence policy in Israel.

The Anti-Defamation League said that by unfairly focusing on Israel, the churches are removing the responsibility from Palestinian or Arab parties embroiled in the conflict to take steps toward peace.