Churches Worldwide Mobilize for Peace in Palestine, Israel

Churches around the globe have begun assembling their forces to push for new actions to end the Palestine-Israel conflict – days before the 40th anniversary of Israel's famed six-day war.

Member churches and related organizations of the World Council of Churches (WCC) will mark the 1967 Arab-Israeli war by praying, holding seminars and advocacy campaigns for seven days, beginning Sunday. The WCC initiative is called "International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, June 3-9 2007."

Participants aim to raise awareness in churches and civil society about the urgent need for new efforts on negotiating peace and just settlement between the two countries.

Beginning June 5, 1967, Israel battled Egypt, Jordan and Syria for six days. After the war, Israel took control of the Sinai desert, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The Sinai Peninsula was later returned to Egypt after signing a peace treaty.

However, some contend the war never ended after six days but remains unofficially ongoing between Israel and its neighbors, which are constantly in conflict.

Peace walks, meetings with governments and staging public forums are planned in at least 14 countries for the WCC initiative this week; news is still coming in from members about planned events. An ecumenical service was scheduled to be held in Jerusalem on Sunday to kick off the week of advocacy. The WCC, Pax Christi, and the Lutheran World Federation together have endorsed the initiative with a combined membership in over 100 countries.

The World Council of Churches is based in Geneva and consists of 347 member churches, predominantly Anglican, Protestant and Orthodox. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member but cooperates with the WCC on a number of issues. The ecumenical body also claims to represent some 550 million Christians.

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