15.08.06 18:19 Alter: 6 yrs

Statement by Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, General Secretary, The Lutheran World Federation, Geneva, 15 August 2006


Statement by Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, General Secretary, The Lutheran World Federation, Geneva, 15 August 2006

I welcome the unanimous passage by the UN Security Council of a resolution to bring to an end the armed hostilities in Lebanon and northern Israel, which have caused so much suffering and destruction over the last month. It is, at the same time, a tragedy that it took so long to achieve this result. The loss of life and destruction of livelihoods that occurred in the meantime cannot be undone by means of this overdue resolution. Nor can this resolution undo the profound harm done to the cause of peace and justice in the Middle East, or restore trust in the goodwill and integrity of the international community in the minds of the many victims of the violence.

Nevertheless, the explicit call contained in the Security Council resolution for the immediate cessation of both the Hizbollah attacks and Israeli offensive military operations is a welcome development, as is the agreement to the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon in parallel with the deployment of Lebanese forces and an enhanced UN peacekeeping presence. It is vitally important that full and effective humanitarian access to all affected areas in southern Lebanon should now be established, in order to secure the essential needs of those still living in those areas. It must also provide a basis for the swift restoration of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure, deliberately targeted in the recent fighting.

Beyond this resolution, the international community must finally grapple with the need to establish a true basis for a sustainable peace in the whole region. It must hold out the prospect of more than the mere absence of conflict, and deal with the fundamental grievances and injustices that have for so many years provided such a fertile ground for hatred and violence in the region and the wider world. It must in particular include the establishment of a just basis for coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis, without which no sustainable peace can be envisaged.

Sadly, every bomb dropped and rocket fired in this latest conflict has sown new seeds of hatred, making peace in the Middle East an even more difficult challenge than before. Regardless of gross statistics, the experience of loss, pain and anger is similar for each victim of the violence, whether Israeli or Arab, and every such experience must harden the heart. But despite the obvious difficulties, diplomacy and dialogue remain the only possible means for progress towards peace. Violence and revenge has only ever succeeded in making a peaceful future for all the people of the region recede further into the future.

Now more than ever, the international community must invest in hope, rather than in weapons for the conflicting forces. All people of goodwill must offer their support to those who continue to work for justice and to struggle for mutual understanding across the lines of division. These voices of reason are a precious treasure of humanity, and the best hope for peace in the Middle East.

Let wisdom and conscience prevail. Let sanctity of human life and human dignity, recognized by Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike, provide a basis for progress towards justice and peace in the Holy Land.