Construction continues on the West Bank wall
The situation continues to be very grave in the Holy Land. As the wall continues to be constructed around the West Bank, so the lives of more people are devastated by it. There are continual stories of families split as the wall snakes through East Jerusalem. Of people unable to reach work, or school, or college. Of 'permit' systems where there are gates, which like all other permit systems in the West Bank and Gaza depend on the whim of those on duty, and more often than not result in failure to cross even if the permit says otherwise.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague began a hearing in February to advise on the legal consequences of the construction of the wall in occupied territory. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and 12 other Israeli peace and human rights organisations have sent a submission to the Court, opposing the violations of human rights and international law posed to the Palestinian civil population by Israel's construction of the wall. Because only Governments can officially submit to the ICJ, they have asked the Israeli Government to submit the document on their behalf! (Sadly at the moment our own Government are supporting the official Israeli Government position which is to try to prevent the hearing from taking place at all).
Archbishop of Canterbury's visit
Meantime, the Anglican community in the Diocese of Jerusalem was encouraged by the visit by Archbishop Rowan Williams, at the invitation of Bishop Riah Abu el Assal. Archbishop Rowan visited churches and church and community projects, and met with political, religious and community leaders and those involved with peace initiatives - Palestinian and Israeli. He also preached in St George's Cathedral, on the text 'He has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility' (Ephesians 2.14)
He started by saying: 'This is a text used so often at services for Christian Unity that it has almost become stale; yet no-one in this congregation is likely to find it so. It is hard to think of an image more poignantly relevant to where we stand today as Christians in this land over which so many storm clouds are hovering. The security fence stands as a terrible symbol of the fear and despair that threaten everyone in this city and country, all the communities who share this Holy Land'.
He went on to challenge us all: 'We need people ... who will give both a negative and a positive vision of what Christ has achieved for us - negative, because we have to see clearly how our divisions destroy us; positive, because we equally have to see that we can walk on one road, even in our differences. We must pray God to raise up such people; when there is a great vacuum of moral leadership, apostles and prophets come into their own. If they are not there, if our churches are not nourishing apostles and prophets and praying for these gifts to be given, we are in dire trouble. Churches that never ask where the apostles and prophets are to be found are failing deeply; they may know that the great walls of fear in the human heart have been undermined - but they have not yet begun to build'.
(If you would like a copy of the full text, please contact the Amos Trust office.)