CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 15)
The National Council of Churches, claiming 42 million members, received here a report opposing the internationalization of Jerusalem and favoring increased Palestinian participation in the control of the city. The report was presented to a meeting of the executive committee of the 250-member general board.
Originally, it was proposed as a resolution but then it was decided to make it a report which the NCC general board commissioned for study and debate by local chapters, pending a determination of policy at the next triennial convention of the NCC in Dallas, Texas next December. The general board held a five-day midwinter meeting here. The report said that “while we believe that Jerusalem should be unified, in the present circumstances we see no advantage of a separate political entity under international control.”
The report added that “the Palestinians have not so far played a significant role in the planning and decision-making concerning the future of the city. Unless they actively and freely participate in all necessary decisions and actions, mutually acceptable agreements cannot be found that respond to the needs and rights of all the people in the city, and antagonisms will be perpetuated that threaten the peace of the region and of the world.”
The passage opposing internationalization of Jerusalem was hailed by Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, who attended the meeting as an observer, along with his assistant, Rabbi A. James Rudin. Rabbi Tanenbaum told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “this is the first time the Council has publicly dissociated itself from a proposal for the internationalization” of Jerusalem. He said that in that sense that is a positive gain but he called the reference to the Palestinians, though “sympathetic” to them, also “unnecessarily one-sided” and “unnecessarily insensitive to Israel.”
The report also contended that “without presuming to adjudge the status quo itself, the question of the Holy Places should be dealt with separately or in the context of an overall peace settlement.” In another statement, the board was urged to continue its national and international efforts to mobilize support for the religious freedom and human rights of Jews, Christians, intellectuals and other dissenters in the Soviet Union.