Both Israel and Palestine are equally to blame for the recent war in Gaza, but Christians are vital in bringing peace to the troubled region. So says the head of the Palestinian Bible Society, Nashat Filmon (see video, right).
His views come as a report from the UN Security Council claimed that both the Israeli and Palestinian armed groups had committed war crimes during the violence last December.
Judge Richard Goldstone, who wrote the report, called on both Israel and Palestine to hold investigations into their actions.
While visiting Bible Society in Swindon, Mr Filmon said: "War is a crime. Both parties are equally responsible for the recent war and the destruction that has taken place."
The UN report was released as the US Middle East envoy George Mitchell continues to press for a deal on Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Mr Filmon said that, while he welcomed George Mitchell’s intervention, there was "not a very strong chance of peace". He blamed both a weakened Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government for the current impasse in the peace process.
"The mood in the West Bank is uncertain," Mr Filmon said. "We are somewhere between war and peace. People feel betrayed. They had lots of dreams that haven’t come true. So they mistrust the leadership."
Christians, he said, were pivotal to helping create peace on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza.
"There is a gap between the many talks and what’s happening on the ground," Mr Filmon said. "On the ground it is a very hard, devastating situation. People are hungry and thirsty, not just for food, but for peace, reconciliation and normal life.
"As Christians, we have a role to be peacemakers. Palestinian Christians are between a rock and a hard place. They can easily be crushed by both sides. But we have the opportunity to build bridges to bring both sides together.
"It’s our task to be true peacemakers between people, and between people and God."
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