Chair of USCCB International Committee Calls on Trump Administration to Pursue Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians
February 2, 2017
WASHINGTON—In a letter issued yesterday congratulating Secretary Rex Tillerson on his confirmation as Secretary of State, Bishop Oscar Cantú, chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), called on the Secretary to work for peace in Israel and Palestine.
Bishop Cantú, who recently participated in a solidarity visit to Israel and Palestine, enclosed a joint communiqué by bishops from Europe, Canada, South Africa and the United States. The bishop notes that "2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of a crippling occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, crippling for both peoples." Quoting the joint communiqué of the bishops, he goes on to state that "[t]he occupation violates 'the human dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis.' Settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian lands undermines a two-state solution, destroying the homes and the livelihoods of Palestinians as well as the long-term security and future of Israelis."
Decrying "egregious injustices and random acts of violence," Bishop Cantú expressed the opposition of U.S. and international bishops to Israeli settlement expansion and confiscation of Palestinian lands. In addition, he implored the Secretary to maintain the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. He wrote, "Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would erode the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution, and is a threat to pursuing peace and ending conflict. Its impact would incite and destabilize the area, compromising U.S. security. As Pope Francis declares, 'the two-state solution must become a reality and not merely a dream.'"
Bishop Cantú called on Secretary Tillerson to work "to end fifty years of occupation and build a brighter future for both Israelis and Palestinians." He concluded, "[T]he United States has always provided leadership and support to the peace process. We continue to profess hope for a diplomatic solution that respects the human dignity for both Israelis and Palestinians and advances justice and peace for all."
The full text of the bishops' joint communiqué and Bishop Cantú's letter to Secretary Rex Tillerson are available online at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/letter-to-secretary-tillerson-from-bishop-cantu-on-israel-palestine-2017-02-01.cfm.