On the eve of the start of new negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches–only the name, face, and accent have changed, evidently, at least on this subject–is traveling in the Holy Land, looking for Palestinians who can support his preconceived notions of both problem and solution. Upon hearing about the murder of four Israeli settlers near Hebron yesterday, the WCC put out the following:

The Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, condemns the killings of four Israeli settlers near Hebron in the West Bank on Tuesday and expresses his condolences to the affected families. He rejects any use of violence as a means to gain the much-desired and needed peace for this region.

“At a time when Palestinian and Israeli leaders are beginning negotiations, the extremists who encourage and legitimize violence must not be allowed to succeed”, said Tveit in a statement.

“Encourage and legitimize?” How about “commit?”

“To bring security to both Israelis and Palestinians, the negotiations must stop the occupation and all the injustices that ordinary Palestinians experience each day”, he continued.

I’ve said over and over that Israel never should have built the settlements, and that their continued presence in the West Bank is problematic. The one in Hebron–where 500 Jews are surrounded by 120,000 Arabs–is especially absurd. But like every WCC leader before him, Tveit refuses to recognize that there are more issues between Israel and the Palestinians than just the occupation. Just as happened in Gaza, if the Israeli presence on the West Bank disappeared tomorrow, there would still be violence directed at Israelis by the fanatics and anti-Semites for whom the presence of any Jews at all in the Holy Land, and the existence of Israel in any form, is anathema. That’s why the matter of security guarantees for Israel, which the Palestinians have refused to give, are so important. Every time someone like Tveit speaks to the situation, and doesn’t mention the fundamental issue in the region–the existence of Israel, and the continuing refusal of many Palestinians to grant the legitimacy of that existence as they continue the jihad against any Jew they can kill–he demonstrates both his lack of understanding and his one-sided perspective on a conflict that can only be solved by balancing of interests, rather than caving in to hate.