As we begin a new year, we pray that the work of Sabeel and its friends will continue to illuminate the need for justice in our world. May we find new and effective ways to meet the challenges that we face in trying to bring a just peace and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.
In spite of Israel’s “settlement freeze,” Jerusalem municipal officials have confirmed the approval of 4 new settlement apartment blocks in Palestinian East Jerusalem. This blatant disregard for international law and for the assurances given to negotiators demonstrate Israel’s hostility toward a negotiated peace. We pray that Israel’s government officials will experience a change of heart and honestly pursue a just peace.
Recently, scores of Israelis have taken part in demonstrations to highlight the need for justice in Palestine and Israel. In Sheikh Jarrah, weekly marches against settlement expansion have resulted in many arrests. Demonstrations along the border with Gaza have also commemorated last year’s atrocities and the ongoing siege. We give thanks for the courage of Israelis who stand up against their own government in the name of justice. May these actions prick the consciences of others.
It appears that rival Palestinian political parties, Hamas and Fatah, are close to reaching a reconciliation deal after nearly three years of tension. We pray that Palestinians of all beliefs and backgrounds will find ways to cooperate with one another peacefully. The rebuilding of Gaza and ending the Israeli occupation are great challenges that require unity to overcome.