Clergy call for urgent talks on Israel-Palestine conflict

Representatives of the Kenya Clergy Alliance has called for diplomatic lasting negotiations to deescalate violence between Israel and Palestine.[Jonah Onyango, Standard]

A section of religious leaders has weighed in on the Israel and Palestine conflict, calling for diplomatic negotiations to stop escalating violence in the two countries.

The Christian leaders expressed their solidarity with the Jewish nation of Israel and appealed to both sides to lay down arms.

They warned that the resurgence of violence between Israel and Palestine will make it harder to pursue peace. Speaking in Nairobi, the United Clergy Alliance of Kenya chairman Bishop Francis Mulinge was emphatic that without the Jews and the nation of Israel there would be no Christianity as it is today.

“Let’s stand with Israel as the world struggles to find lasting peace over the Palestine question,” said Mulinge, warning that violence was likely to produce generations angry with each other, making it difficult to address causes of the conflict.

They issued a communique during a breakfast working session bringing together over 20 clergymen to delve on the Middle East, with focus on the situation in Gaza, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

They called for a ceasefire and cessation of violence, as the first step to a renewed push for peace.

Apart from taking lives, Mulinge said the escalation of violence in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, West Bank and the Gaza Strip was reversing progress towards permanent and secure peace.

"We are concerned that this latest bout of violence, and particularly its touching on religious sites, will fan extremism and hatred, which will lead to further erosion of the moderate middle ground on which the tough compromises required for lasting peace, can be made," said Mulinge.

He added: “The church condemns violent rioting, and the exploitation of such popular anger by extremist groups.”

The clerics warned the Palestine government against harbouring terror groups such as Hamas.

According to the clergy, two Palestinian militant groups - Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad - on May 10 fired rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, hitting multiple residences and a school. Israel retaliated with air strikes against Gaza, targeting multiple apartment buildings and a news office building.

"The enmity that produces the kind of violence occurring today only begets more violence, and more generations born into enmities whose roots are too ancient to uproot," the clergymen said.

"This dark moment calls for a renewed vision of peace, built on the insight that the present course only leads to further destruction of lives and hope."

The dispute began early in May after a group of Palestinian families were evicted from land they claim to be their ancestral home. The parcels in parts of East Jerusalem have been the subjects of a legal battle between Palestinians and Israelis, in Israeli courts, since the 1970s.

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