A global solidarity initiative will raise awareness about the plight of Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem who are threatened with displacement from their homes due to inherently discriminatory laws of Israel. The World Council of Churches (WCC), a global umbrella organisation of churches, launched a new ‘East Jerusalem Initiative’ on July 8.
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), founded in 2002 under the auspices of the WCC, was formed in response to requests from heads of churches in Jerusalem.
International participants of EAPPI programme activities will normally be present with these communities to support and accompany them, but the physical presence is currently impossible due to Covid-19.
Peter Prove, WCC Director of the Commission for the Churches on International Affairs, says, “International participants in EAPPI programme activities regularly visit the affected families in East Jerusalem, as a sign of solidarity and to support them in their efforts to advocate for justice. The participants also attended some of the court hearings pertaining to these cases at the request of the families concerned, to observe the proceedings and to provide support and solidarity. But since we cannot be physically present with them at this time, we are trying to accompany them ‘remotely’ through this initiative.”
For many years, EAPPI has been present with people in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and elsewhere in East Jerusalem and other communities, meeting with families threatened with eviction and displacement, observing their non-violent protest actions.
Peter says they expect to continue this initiative during the coming weeks and months, when further court hearings and attempts to displace these families and communities are expected. They will be continuing this sort of ‘remote’ accompaniment until such time as and when they are able to return to the region and be with them in person.
WCC, the 73-year ecumenical organisation which works together for unity, justice and peace, wrapped up its 65th central committee meeting in Geneva on June 29. This was its first online session with many of the proceedings carried out via video conference due to the pandemic. Rev Prof Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC acting General Secretary, says the central committee acted not only as a fellowship and a church organisation dealing with topics of the world, but from the perspective of faith.” Among other pressing issues, they shared about the situation of children killed around the world and prayed for the situation in the Middle East.
The WCC is set to receive the ‘Bridge Builder Award’ for building bridges of understanding between people, nations, and communities at national and international levels. The award will be presented by the jury of the 14th August Committee Norway together with The Oslo Centre.
Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC central committee, in her address, provided a glimpse of how the global church is coping with the impact of Covid-19.