Dear Prime Minister,
At the recent Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada both churches affirmed a resolution calling for stronger action to address the deteriorating conditions in Israel and Palestine, in keeping with already stated Canadian government policies for the region.
Despite strong international opposition to the State of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, it continues at an accelerating pace. Settler violence against Palestinian communities and people is increasing daily. The internationally accepted two-state solution seems more and more untenable in light of the permanency of illegal settlements and isolation of Palestinian communities. Christians in the Holy Land are increasingly targeted for abuse and violence including their places of worship. Our partners in the region continue to call us to advocate with them for a just peace that upholds the dignity of all peoples in the region.
The resolution approved by our churches on July 2, 2023, recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist and opposes violence by both sides in this extended conflict. We commit to doing our own work on anti-semitism in our churches as well, and educating our congregations about the conflict.
Specifically, our resolutions call us to:
- Urge Canada to take leadership in the international community to end the blockade on Gaza and ensure residents have immediate access to humanitarian assistance and freedom of movement, while affirming the necessary conditions to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
- Call on Canada to increase funding to UNRWA which provides essential services to millions of refugees, including those in Gaza where 70 percentage are refugees of 1948. In 2020 the Canadian government announced a 3-year, $90 million commitment from 2020 through 2022 but this funding is not increasing rapidly enough to fill this critical gap. We urge Canada to give $50 million annually to UNRWA, matching Norway’s contribution based on GDP.
- Call on the Canadian government to continue to take a just, constructive, and human rights-based approach on Palestine-Israel issues, taking into account the extreme imbalance of power between Palestine and Israel and in line with international law and official Canadian foreign policy.
- Urge the government of Canada to live up to the entirety of its existing policies on peace in Palestine and Israel, and to its commitments to International Law and International Conventions.
We must raise our voice to foster peace and hold all sides accountable for violations of international law and justice. To not do so is to give permission for further disproportionate aggression to continue.
We understand the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development will be undertaking a full review of Canadian policies regarding Israel and Palestine in Fall 2023 with a series of public consultations. We hope the government will be paying attention to this study as it considers its own next steps in working to end this conflict. We acknowledge this is a complex conflict and believe Canada has an important role to play in advocating for peace and setting policies that will guide our voice and actions. We remain committed to working towards this peace together, and continue to welcome conversation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss our concerns.
Bishop Susan Johnson
National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Archbishop Linda Nicholls
Primate, Anglican Church of Canada