The National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI), a broad based ecumenical network of Christian organizations and individuals united in support for Israel, continues to be deeply concerned about events in the Middle East. Thirteen members of the NCLCI Executive Committee traveled to the region in January 2002 to assess the situation and to express our support for genuine peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Based on what we saw and heard while we were there and on what we continue to learn about the situation:
- NCLCI denounces the armed occupation of the fourth-century Church of the Nativity, one of the most holy sites in Christianity, as well as other churches, hospitals, orphanages and schools.
- NCLCI commends the Israel Defense Forces for exercising patience and sensitivity to Christian sites in Bethlehem – firing only when fired upon and readily apologizing and accepting responsibility when mistakes are made.
- NCLCI commends Israel for providing food, water and first aid to all non-combatants in the Church of the Nativity and elsewhere when needed.
- NCLCI commends Israel for accepting the burden of house-to-house combat in an attempt to mitigate Palestinian casualties and destruction while absorbing significant casualties of its own.
- NCLCI denounces the placement of Palestinian military units in civilian neighborhoods and the booby trapping of buildings with explosives that inevitably endanger children. The contempt for civilian populations, whose aspirations the Palestinian Authority purports to represent, is reprehensible.
- NCLCI denounces all attempts to manipulate world opinion away from reality. Specifically, we denounce the use of the UN and media sources to accuse Israel of a "massacre" in Jenin – a charge that is widely recognized as false.
- NCLCI recognizes the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, but condemns the use of violence that is being used to try to achieve their goals.
- NCLCI urges all parties to return to the negotiating process since that is the only way that true peace can ever be established between Israel and the Palestinian people."
- NCLCI grieves all loss of life, the shattered lives and dreams of innocent bystanders and the destruction of homes and property. We pray that God will comfort all who mourn and guide all who work for a genuine peace.