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Fax to Phil Goff
5 April 2002
Dear Mr Goff,
We, like many other New Zealanders, are deeply concerned about the situation in Israel and Palestine. We wrote only last week to your government outlining some specific requests that have come from our partners, the Middle East Council of Churches, that if put in place might represent some hope in a very tragic environment. However we feel compelled to write again as we watch with alarm and deep sadness the continued escalation of violence and the gross and systemic violations of human rights, especially in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
This morning we received news from a member of a World Council of Churches delegation currently in Jerusalem on a solidarity visit of church leaders and Israeli and Palestinian non-governmental organisations. The WCC delegation member, Salpy Eskidjian, reported that while they were meeting with church leaders, there were calls from Greek Orthodox priests inside the Nativity Church compound,. They stated that the Israeli forces had broken the door to the monastery, occupied part of it and were at that moment searching for Palestinians. The priests were trying to decide whether to stand in front of the civilians and others and/or whether to help everyone take refuge. We have seen some of the pictures on the news.
We have welcomed the statements you have already made condemning the violence but ask that you urgently consider further actions that the New Zealand government might take to bring an end to the violence and suffering and to create a just alternative that protects the lives and rights of Palestinians. In particular we ask with some urgency that you raise the matter strongly with the Israeli ambassador, and in all international for a, asking for an immediate end to Israeli military actions and to the illegal occupation of Palestine.