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After US Elections, CMEP’s Pursuit of Middle East Peace Continues

Earlier this month, there was significant uncertainty about which candidate would win the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. Nonetheless, it is clear that whoever is in the White House for the next four years, U.S. policy toward the Middle East is of critical importance. We at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) will continue to be active throughout the next presidential term and urge the President of the United States to be a leader who strives for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine and pursues equality and human rights for all people of the Middle East. 

Throughout the last four years, we have seen continued conflict and disaster across the Middle East from the recent Beirut explosion in Lebanon to the on-going civil war in Yemen --  the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. The United States has been complicit in the ongoing Yemeni war by supporting the Emirati, and Saudi coalition. The plight of refugees continues to be a pressing issue and the persecution and marginalization of Christian communities in the Middle East remains a serious concern. Furthermore, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the region’s longest-lasting conflict, remains unresolved and has been exapserated by recent Israeli and U.S. policies. Inadequate leadership from the Palestinian government has left a generation of Palestinians with little hope for a future in which they can truly flourish and live in a thriving Palestinian state.

The region’s longest-lasting conflict, remains unresolved and has been exapserated by recent Israeli and U.S. policies.

Under the Trump administration, the prospect for negotiation and a just peace was limited by policies that unilaterally favored the Israeli government and harmed Palestininans. In 2018, the Trump administration cut U.S. humanitarian aid to five million Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza. That same year, Israel received over three billion dollars in U.S. aid, almost entirely military aid. In 2017, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to affirm this recognition. This action departed from historic U.S. foreign policy with Israel and harmed the prospects for a shared Jerusalem by Israelis and Palestinians. The decision also further cemented Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980 after it was occupied during the 1967 Six-Day War. 

In 2020, President Trump announced his Peace to Prosperity Proposal which endorses Israel’s illegal de jure annexation of up to 30% of the West Bank. This proposal continues to inform the Trump Administration’s Israeli policies. While the recent Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are contingent on Israel temporarily suspending its proposed formal annexation of the West Bank, de facto annexation continues to be a lived reality for Palestinians experienced through forced displacement, border walls, military checkpoints, and increasingly fragmented communities. U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, recently said “[Israeli] sovereignty will be postponed . . . but it has not been canceled” and in October, the U.S. altered its policy and authorized U.S. taxpayer-funded science programs in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, conferring de facto U.S recognition of Israeli sovereignty over illegal settlements. 

We will continue to elevate the voices of our member communions and organizations.

While the past four years have been filled with challenges to peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the next four years, are certain to bring their own challenges that CMEP and our partners will need to address. We will not only oppose policies that harm Palestinians and Israelis but also mobilize to fight political inertia and advocate for new legislation that reflects our vision of a just peace toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

CMEP’s pursuit of a just peace involves practicing our strategy of education, elevation, and advocacy. For education, CMEP will continue to educate coalition members and the broader US Christian community about the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We will continue adapting our educational content to satisfy the needs of virtual learning, so that our members will learn about key issues and hear voices from the Middle East. We will equip them to bring this knowledge and these voices when they engage with their elected officials. 

We will continue to elevate the voices of our member communions and organizations as well as Israeli, Palestinian, and Middle East peace activists. Seeking resolutions to the conflicts in the Middle East requires taking a multi-narrative approach. Indeed, we value people’s stories and understand that people experience conflicts differently. We will continue to provide a platform for voices that help us bear witness to injustice while calling for peace. 

We understand that our advocacy is sustained through each of you

Our advocacy will continue to serve those affected by conflict in the Middle East and serve our vision of justice and peace. We will work with our network members to help them bring their voices before their elected officials so they can advocate for just U.S. policies. We understand that our advocacy is sustained through each of you and through the support and collaboration of our member communions like the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). Therefore, we will continue to create opportunities, including virtual ones, for you stand-up for what you believe in and make sure that your unwavering commitment to peace and justice continues to be heard at all levels of government.

We know these are trying times in both the United States and the Middle East. The days and weeks ahead could bring further unrest in the United States as we continue to watch for the official results of the Presidential election. Now more than ever, we are committed to the ideals of peace and justice in the United States and in the Middle East. Regardless of who is in power, we will raise our voices to demand policies that work toward durable solutions grounded in upholding human dignity, equality, and rights for all. 

Written in collaboration with Andres Leland. Photo by Buenas Dicas on Unsplash

The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

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