Israel Should Not Annex the West Bank

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A statement by 
the Network of Evangelicals for the Middle East (NEME)

 

This July, 2020, the new Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz may begin to annex to Israel large portions of the West Bank. How should Christians respond to the proposed annexation? The Network of Evangelicals for the Middle East (NEME) is a coalition of evangelical Christian pastors, scholars, and leaders. We oppose Israel’s proposed annexation of the West Bank: it is not good for Israelis nor for Palestinians.

Evangelicals share a deep love for the Jewish people. Some identify as “pro-Israel” because of how they read the Bible and what they believe about the end times. Others might endorse annexation because they believe God promised the Land to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants. Many Christians in the West regard Palestinian Muslims with deep suspicion, while giving little or no thought to the plight of the Palestinian Christian community and their historic connection to the Holy Land. 

Whatever our differences, all Christ-followers are called to be peacemakers who extend the love of Jesus towards all persons and care as he did for the vulnerable and the marginalized. Christ is not honored when his disciples support injustice. Munther Isaac and Jamal Khader, leaders in the Palestinian Christian community, warn that if Israel annexes the West Bank, “many Palestinian Christians and members of the Church will lose the land they lived in and farmed for generations.” They see it as “a mortal blow to a dynamic Christian presence in the birthplace of Jesus.” There must be a better way. As followers of the Good Shepherd, we raise our voices in opposition to annexation and in support of a just and durable peace for both Jews and Palestinians in the Land. 

We at NEME are not alone. Many in Israel, in Europe, in the U.S., and around the world see annexation as bad for Palestinians, for Israelis, for the U.S., and for the witness of the Christian church.

For Palestinians, unilateral, legalized annexation would end their quest for a future, viable, autonomous state, a quest for which there is broad international support and to which Israel has previously agreed. Annexation would confine Palestinians in non-contiguous enclaves beyond which they would need permission to travel. Palestinian farmers whose land lies in the newly annexed territory would likely see it declared Israeli state property or ceded to Jewish settlements.

For Israel, annexation, although in the works for years, would neither lead to peace nor enhance Israel’s image as a democracy. On the contrary, it would deepen inequalities between Jews and Palestinians, likely incur European retaliation, and undermine Israel’s security coordination with the Palestinian Authority and with Jordan. Stepping into the security vacuum would be either Hamas or Israel itself, in which case some 3 million Palestinians across the West Bank would come under their direct and costly control, a scenario Israel would dearly like to avoid.

As for the U.S., Israel’s move to enlarge its borders would follow the trajectory set by the Trump administration who released its Peace to Prosperity plan in January and has signaled its support. But annexation would increase anti-American sentiment in the Arab and Muslim worlds, destabilize relations with allies in the region, and put at risk U.S. military forces, diplomats and contractors. To endorse annexation would highlight U.S. partisanship in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and undermine U.S. opposition to illegal land seizures elsewhere in the world.

 

Signatories

        Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Anderson
        Evangelical Covenant Church - Serve Globally- MENA Region

        Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon,
        Executive Director
        Churches for Middle East Peace

        Evelmyn Ivens
        Evangelicals 4 Justice

        Kristyn Komarnicki, program director
        Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA)

        Rev. Fred Harrell
        City Church San Francisco

        Dr. Russell Jeung
        New Hope Covenant Church

        Sandra Maria Van Opstal
        Chasing Justice

        Michelle Ferrigno Warren
        Advocacy & Strategic Engagement Director
        Christian Community Development Association

        Kathy Khang
        vice board chair, Evangelicals for Social Action

        Dr. Bruce N. Fisk,
        Director, Jerusalem Semester
        Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA

        Rev. Don N Johnson
        Evangelical Covenant Church

        Dr. Jon Gary Lemmond
        Trinity Covenant Church, Salem OR

        Pastor Sharad Yadav
        Bread & Wine

        Dr. Helen Rhee
        Westmont College

        Isaac Villegas, Pastor
        Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship

        Dr. Christopher D. Stanley
        St. Bonaventure University

        Dr. Alister Chapman
        Westmont College

        Rev Dr Rob Dalrymple
        ECO (Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians)

        Mr. James M. Sumner
        Emeritus Dean & Retired Vice President
        Willamette University

        Dr Jace Broadhurst
        Presbyterian churches

        Bishop Ronnie Crudup
        New Horizon Church International

        Dr. Steven Paas(snr)
        Private

        Rev. Howard K. Burgoyne, Superintendent
        The East Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church, U.S.A.

        Dr. Mark Seversen
        The Evangelical Covenant Church

        Rev. Josh Rude
        Evangelical Covenant Church

        Dr. Gary M. Burge,
        Professor of New Testament
        Calvin Theological Seminary

        Reverend Donald K. Nelson
        Beverly Evangelical Covenant Church, Chicago, IL

        Prof. Dr. Chandra Mallampalli  
        Westmont College

        Rev. Mark A. Novak
        Evangelical Covenant Church

        Nick Scott-Blakely
        Fuller Theological Seminary

        Dale Engen
        ECC pastor

        Andrea Smith
        Evangelicals 4 Justice and NAIITS

        Reverend Greg Yee, Superintendent
        Pacific Northwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church

        Rev. Dr. Andrew E. Larsen
        Evangelical Covenant Church

        Cornelis H Blok, chairman
        Kairos Sabeel Nederland

        Nancy Jo Hoover
        Personal

        Mary Hubbard Given      
        Montecito Covenant Church

        Dr. Wayne Iba  
        Retired Professor, Westmont College

        Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove  
        School for Conversion

        Dr. Mary Docter
        Westmont College

        Pastor James Baysinger  
        Hope Community Church

        Judy Neunuebel  
        Jewish Voice for Peace

        Shane Claiborne
        Red Letter Christians

        Dr. Patti Hunter        
        Santa Barbara Community Church

        Timon  
        Studio Berckheyde

        Marlena Graves  
        Writer

        Angie Hong, worship leader    
        non-affiliated

        Dr. Frederic M. Martin, Pastor Emeritus
        Evangelical Free Church of Bemidji, Minnesota

        Dr. Richard Pointer    
        Westmont College

        Mr. Gavin Jensen        
        Holy Community Covenant Church

        Jim Wright      
        Margin church

        Rev. Dr. J. Ross Wagner
        Duke University Divinity School

        David Neunuebel
        Americans for a Just Peace in the Middle East (AJPME)

        Pastor Curtis Lillie    
        Discovery Church of the Nazarene

        Frances Iba    
        Retired

        Dr. Heather Keaney, Associate Professor
        Westmont College

        Rev. David W. Swanson  
        New Community Covenant Church

        Dr. Steven Pointer, Professor Emeritus  
        Trinity International University

        Pastor Diana Trautwein  
        Evangelical Covenant Church

        Rev. Dr Al Tizon
        North Park Theological Seminary

        Josh Hall, Senior Pastor        
        Fair Oaks Church

        Rev. Curtis Peterson    
        Evangelical Covenant Church

        Dr. Beth Seversen, Professor of Christian Ministries Studies    
        North Park University

        Rev. Dr. Brooke Isingoma        
        St. Matthew United Methodist Church

        Rev. Paul Robinson, Executive Minister
        Love Mercy Do Justice Evangelical Covenant Church

        Dr. Brenda Wagner      
        Richmond Hospital

        Dr. M. James Sawyer    
        Sacred Saga Ministries

        Dave Shields    
        Menlo Church

        Teaching Pastor Matt VanCleave  
        Blue Oaks Church

        David Husby    
        Covenant World Relief

        Rev. Carlos L Malave    
        Christian Churches Together

        Jessica Tissell
        Rotary International Peace Fellow

        Chrissy Palmerlee      
        Evangelical Covenant Church

        Dr Ruth Padilla DeBorst
        INFEMIT

        Rev. Dr. Dana Allin    
        ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians

        Lenore Three Stars, Board Member        
        Evangelicals 4 Justice

        Rev. Dana Miller Baker, Board Member   
        Evangelicals 4 Justice

        Alexa Salvatierra

        Mako A. Nagasawa, Director      
        The Anastasis Center for Christian Education and Ministry

        Lisa Sharon Harper, President and Founder      
        Freedom Road, LLC

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