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 — May 9, 20169 mai 2016
 
Visit to the Holy Land, May 2016. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC
Visit to the Holy Land, May 2016. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC
Marianne Ejdersten, World Council of Churches

After travelling to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv in the last week for a climate justice meeting, World Council of Churches (WCC) staff and partners were detained or deported in a manner that WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit terms both unprecedented and intolerable.

“The WCC protests the excessive, unreasonable and wholly unwarranted treatment by the Israeli authorities of these representatives of WCC member churches and staff travelling to engage in discussions on climate change and environmental stewardship, at the invitation of and hosted by WCC’s member churches in the region,” he said.

Members of the WCC’s Working Group on Climate Change from as many as 13 countries reported they were held for hours of interrogation, including tough intimidation and detention in prison-like conditions for up to three days — a very difficult experience, Tveit said. “We react in different ways emotionally to experiences like this. For all of them, I think it was totally unexpected and very disturbing, for most of them shocking, as they have never experienced anything like this before.”

Although there have been small incidents in the past, there has been nothing approaching this level of intimidation, Tveit added.

The members of the Working Group on Climate Change had travelled to Israel in a spirit of ecumenical solidarity to address shared global challenges in environmental protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Travellers were detained, interrogated, and intimidated. Expressing his concern about the effect of such treatment on people, Tveit said he had no reason to believe there would be any problem for people travelling to this meeting, particularly since there have been other such meetings over many years, not only related to climate change but also to ecumenical relations, peacemaking, and theological reflection. For many years, the WCC has drawn on resources and counterparts from both Palestine and Israel to promote peaceful relations and coexistence.

All travelling WCC participants from the WCC working group are safely out of Israel. The WCC called on the government of Israel for an apology as well as to desist its aggressive behaviour toward WCC member churches and staff in the future. “We believe that it is also in the interest of the government of Israel to address these very unpleasant incidents for future visitors to this country, and to prevent their recurrence,” said Tveit and added “We are ready to meet and discuss these issues.


Statement on events at Ben Gurion International Airport, 29 April-2 May 2016

Last week, participants from 13 different countries arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport for a planned meeting in Beit Jala of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Working Group on Climate Change encountered a level of aggression and intimidation from the Israeli authorities unprecedented in the WCC’s experience.

Several participants – both WCC staff and representatives of member churches and ecumenical partners – were detained in prison-like conditions for up to three days, before being deported to their countries of origin. Others were ultimately admitted to Israel after exceptionally long and confrontational interrogation. All reported aggressive, accusatory and abusive questioning, threats and intimidation above and beyond what the WCC is prepared to consider tolerable.

The WCC strongly protests the excessive, unreasonable and wholly unwarranted treatment by the Israeli authorities of these representatives of WCC member churches and staff traveling to engage in discussions on climate change and environmental stewardship, at the invitation of and hosted by WCC’s member churches in the region.

Our primary concern in this geographic context continues to be for the people of the region facing violence, insecurity and denial of their human rights on a daily basis, for the fulfilment of the long-delayed two-state solution, and for a future of peaceful coexistence between the communities of the region. But the WCC finds it deeply regrettable – and symptomatic of the current situation – that the Israeli authorities behaved in this manner toward church people from around the world who came to Israel in a spirit of ecumenical solidarity to address shared challenges in responding to global climate change.

The member churches of the WCC have committed themselves to a “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace,” moving and acting together to address situations of conflict, injustice and oppression in our world. We seek to take this path in dialogue and cooperation with governmental, intergovernmental and inter-religious partners and with all people of good will. The WCC has a longstanding commitment to and engagement in inter-religious dialogue and relationships with Jewish and Muslim partners, as well as with representatives of other world religions.

We are always open to meet with representatives from the political leadership of the government of Israel, and we request a meeting with senior Israeli government representatives to address these specific incidents and to prevent their recurrence.

The WCC calls on the government of Israel for the apology that these participants deserve, and to desist from its aggressive behaviour toward WCC member churches and staff.

Geneva 9 May, 2016

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches

Posted: May 9, 2016 • Permanent link: https://ecumenism.net/?p=9089
Categories: WCC NewsIn this article: Israel, WCC
Transmis : 9 mai 2016 • Lien permanente : https://ecumenism.net/?p=9089
Catégorie : WCC NewsDans cet article : Israel, WCC


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