Long-Term Ceasefire for Palestinians and Israelis
CMEP welcomes a long-term ceasefire between Israeli and Hamas leaders.
Israel and the Palestinians agreed to an Egyptian brokered open ended cease-fire on August 26th, following 50 days of fighting that began July 8th. Effective immediately, Hamas and Islamic groups agreed to stop all rocket and mortar fire into Israel and Israel agreed to cease all military action, including ground operations. Israel also agreed to open border crossings in order to allow for an easier flow of goods into Gaza and the extension of fishing limits off the Gaza coast to 6 miles; both were included in the 2012 cease-fire agreement, but never fully implemented. Another key element of the cease-fire stipulates that the Palestinian Authority, with international donors, will coordinate reconstruction of Gaza. Longer term issues such as the construction of a Gaza seaport and airport, the release of Hamas prisoners in the West Bank by Israel, possibly in trade for the remains of the two Israeli soldiers believed held by Hamas, and the demilitarization of Gaza will be discussed in a month.
Events Leading up to the Cease-fire
Terms of this open ended cease-fire are similar in substance to a proposal accepted by Israel on July 15th , but rejected by Hamas. Both Israel and Hamas are claiming victory; there were fireworks in Gaza City Tuesday night and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh praised Gaza residents as true heroes, while Netanyahu claimed to have dealt Hamas its toughest blow. In the week prior to the cease-fire a number of other violent events took place including, Israel's assassination of three Hamas military leaders, Hamas' execution of Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel, and the death of an Israeli boy from rocket fire.
Responses to the cease-fire have been mixed. US Secretary of State John Kerry strongly supported the cease-fire and called it an opportunity to address long term issues. Israeli Knesset members criticized Netanyahu for declaring victory and accused him of failing to disarm Gaza, dismantle Hamas, and bring security to southern Israel.
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Concern about Price Tag Attacks
On May 23, 2014 Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Executive Director Warren Clark and Board Chair Russ Testa sent a letter of solidarity to Jerusalem Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal after a string of vandalisms against Christian institutions, including one against the Assembly of Bishops at the Notre Dame Center in East Jerusalem.
CMEP supports Patriarch Twal’s view that, “the unrestrained acts of vandalism poison the atmosphere; the atmosphere of co-existence and the atmosphere of collaboration.”
The welfare of Palestinian Christians is an ongoing concern to CMEP. We continue to admire the steadfastness of those who work to ensure a vibrant Christian presence in the Holy Land for future generations.