Churches at odds with GOB over measures against Israel
Tonight, the Churches and the Government of Belize are at odds over the government’s measures against Israel and its views on the conflict. This morning, the Belize Council of Churches fired off a release criticizing the government’s decision and stating that it may cause issues for Belizeans visiting the “Holy Land”. The council says that while it is not choosing sides in the war, it believes the government made the wrong move and calls on it to prudently restore the relations when possible. Senator for the Council of Churches, Bishop Moses “Alvin” Benguche, spoke about the church’s position and expressed their thoughts on the matter.
Bishop Alvin Benguche, The Methodist Bishop :“The church I must say is sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians and particularly those who are being adversely affected in Gaza and the West Bank. The crisis especially the killing and bombing of innocent individuals such as children and displaced women and where hospitals have been bombed and schools have been demolished that as a church we are concerned about all those things. And as a church, as the Belize Council of Churches joining with the Caribbean Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches we condemn all those things that are currently taking place and that Israel is doing towards the Palestinians at this time. We are however also concerned over the fact that the world continues to look and the world must also be reminded as to what precipitated this round of violence. And we must also note that those in Israel were first affected when some people from the part of Gaza went over to Israel and caused havoc in early October among the citizens of Israel it was that which precipitated this round. I’m not saying it is that which has caused the conflict.”
Benguche says that the churches believe there was a greater need for dialogue before such a position could have been made on the country’s behalf. He added that the council is under the impression that the decision is counterproductive and called on the government to focus on working with both parties.
Bishop Alvin Benguche, The Methodist Bishop: “I think it goes against what we should be doing at this time as a country whereby I think we should be calling for that kind of diplomatic relation. We should be calling for some kind of unity and talking across the table instead of what we as a church feel is precipitating or adding to the problem. I think it is important for our government and our country to recognize and realize that there is a United Nations Resolution in place, Resolution 242 where it continues to call for the two state solution to this situation that has plagued the Holy Land for so long. I believe that as a country it is in that direction we should be moving where we continue to encourage diplomatic relations and ties between the Israelis and the Palestinians that someday soon after all the struggles and so forth and whatever negotiation needs to be put in place that we will find a solution that the United Nations is asking us to be able to support and Belize at this time I think should be supportive of that rather than what we as church think is adding to the problem. We are against that kind of war. We are against those kinds of atrocities. We are against violence and bombing of schools and bombing of hospitals but at the same time what I’m also saying is that how can we in spite of all that because they are countries and because they have to live side by side with each other how can we as a country help them to help themselves and to live in a state of peace, brotherhood and sisterhood? I think that should be our ultimate responsibility.”
While that’s the view of the council of churches, this evening, the government clapped back at the council and stated, quote, “Belizeans are free to visit Israel. There is no visa requirement. Furthermore, when the war erupted, the government arranged with a friendly third country to render aid and assistance to any Belizean in Israel in difficulty. Therefore, it is incorrect for the BCC to indicate any semblance of the contrary. On the question of dialogue, the Government of Belize has communicated to Israel by diplomatic note, to which there has been no response. Additionally, government did note that it agrees with the BCC in saying that “a two-state solution remains the best option in the long-term, where peoples are respected, and the cultures are promoted and preserved.”