Monday, 7 June 2010

Statement on The Israeli Attack on the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla and a Call for Dialogue

This statement was issued on 4 June 2010

Since the attack by Israeli commandos on the humanitarian aid shipments headed for Gaza, there has been dialogue with the inter-faith community of Cape Town, and especially within the Western Cape Religious Leaders’ Forum (WCRLF). There is much on which we agree, in our response to these events, but much also where there is a divergence of views among us.

As chairperson of the WCRLF Executive, these are my thoughts, concerns and prayers for the current situation in Israel-Palestine and for the long hoped for settlement for that troubled region of our world.

Conscious of the religious and political complexities and sensitivities surrounding the ongoing struggle for peace in the Middle East, and conscious also of our own religious differences, I nonetheless wish to join in expressing dismay and distress at the Israeli military assault on the humanitarian convoy in the international waters of the Mediterranean, and my condemnation of the needless loss of life.

The pain of all who suffer through the lack of peace and stability within Israel-Palestine tears at my heart, and I pray that we may be united in our desire that these tragic and unnecessary events should not precipitate a worsening of the situation in the region, or bring division and violence elsewhere.

I therefore call for unity – rejecting any attempt to use this incident to damage our hard earned mutual respect among our communities of faith in the Western Cape. I strongly urge our communities rather to join in praying together that this most recent act of violence may in some way stimulate further action and determination that may lead towards a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.

As people of faith in South Africa we know that constructive compromise is possible. We know that the hard work of mediation and negotiation can bring peaceful settlements from seemingly intractable situations.

I am grateful for our Government joining with the international community’s call for the immediate release of the ships and of those upon them; and for the urgent delivery of all humanitarian assistance from the convoy to its intended destination, especially to those in greatest need. I urge them to press for a full and transparent investigation; as well as to redouble their efforts to support a just and lasting solution in the region in line with international norms.

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