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Churches snub Trump’s Middle East peace plan saying it ignores international law

by Heather Preston

Churches in Jerusalem and members of the Anglican and Catholic church in the UK have responded to the US President’s plan for peace in the Middle East, calling for a “two-state” solution.

Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday, Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited ‘peace plan’ in which he promised to keep Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.

At a press conference that Palestinian representatives were not invited to attend, Trump spoke of a “win-win” opportunity for both sides of the conflict there.

The blueprint recognises and legitimises Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory, which are regarded as illegal under international law - something Israel disputes.

It also includes a conceptual map to illustrate new territory lines, that Trump says “more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem," while giving complete security control of the West Bank to Israel in any future "state".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has dismissed the plans as a "conspiracy".

Churches in Jerusalem have spoken out in opposition of Trump’s proposed “Deal of the Century” as it is also known.

A statement on behalf of patriarchs and church heads from across the Orthodox, Episcopal, Lutheran and Catholic Church in Jerusalem reads:

“We, Patriarchs and Heads of the Holy Land Churches, affirm our strong devotion to achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on the international legitimacy and the relevant UN resolutions and in a manner that guarantees security, peace, freedom and dignity to all of the peoples of the region.”

It goes on to request the development of a “two states” vision that is in line with “international legitimacy” as well as “opening a political communication channel” with Palestine’s representatives to ensure a peace plan that satisfies the “legitimate aspirations” of Palestine and works towards peace and justice for all in the Holy Land.

Boris Johnson welcomed Trump’s proposal in Parliament, on Wednesday.

Speaking at the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said: “No peace plan is perfect, but this has the merit of a two-state solution. It would ensure Jerusalem is both the capital of Israel and the Palestinian people."

The Church of England and the Catholic Church for England and Wales have condemned the UK government’s approval of the plan, claiming it fails to uphold international law.

A joint statement reads: “Our governments have a responsibility to uphold international law and protect human dignity in the Holy Land. This unilateral initiative does not do so.

“We are extremely concerned that the UK government has welcomed the proposal. The government should continue to insist upon meaningful dialogue, a viable two-state solution and the application of international law.”

The statement is signed by the Rt Rev Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton and the Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, Lord Bishop of Southwark, and Church of England Lead Bishop for International Affairs.

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