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Tuesday, May 14

Church of Scotland report questions Israel's claim of "divine right"
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The Church of Scotland is to be commended for their report, The Inheritance of Abraham published this month.

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 In no sense does the report disenfranchise anyone from legitimate rights to citizenship in Israel and Palestine, merely the claim made by some Zionists that the Bible mandates an exclusive right to the land for the Jewish people alone. On the contrary the Hebrew Scriptures repeatedly insist that the land belongs to God and that residence was always conditional. For example, God said to his people, “‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.” (Leviticus 25:23). Here are some of the theological conclusions of the report: From this examination of the various views in the Bible about the relation of land to the people of God, it can be concluded that Christians should not be supporting any claims by Jewish or any other people, to an exclusive or even privileged divine right to possess particular territory. It is a misuse of the Bible to use it as a topographic guide to settle contemporary conflicts over land.   In the Bible, God’s promises extend in hope to all land and people. Focused as they are on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, these promises call for a commitment in every place to justice in a spirit of reconciliation.  On how Christians should respond politically, the report insists: 
  • That the current situation is characterized by an inequality in power and therefore reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the blockade of Gaza, are ended.
  • The Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal under International Law. 
  • The Church of Scotland, individuals and civil organisations should urge the UK government and the international community as a matter of urgency to put pressure on Israel to cease from the expansion of these settlements.
  • The Church of Scotland must remain in dialogue and fellowship with ecumenical partners to support concerns for justice and peace.
  • That the Church of Scotland should do nothing to promote the viability of the illegal settlements on Palestinian land.
  • The Church of Scotland should support projects which prioritise peace building, poverty alleviation and the Palestinian economy.
  • That human rights of all peoples should be respected but this should include the right of return and /or compensation for Palestinian refugees.
  • That negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority about peace with justice must resume at the earliest opportunity and the Church of Scotland should continue to put political pressure on all parties to commence such negotiations, and asking all parties to recognise the inequality in power which characterises this situation.
  • That there are safe rights of access to the sacred sites for the main religions in the area.
Click the link below to continue reading: Dr. Marc Ellis has written a useful commentary on the Church of Scotland report Exile and the prophetic: the Church of Scotland weighs in  

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