The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) brings internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation. Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace.
EAPPI seeks to provide up-to-date, reliable information on the occupation. When EAs return home, they campaign for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law and implementation of UN resolutions.
EAPPI supports local and international efforts to end the occupation, bringing a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.
To see photos and videos from some of EAPPI's partner communities, click here.
The mission of the EAPPI is to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and to carry out concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation. Participants in the programme monitor and report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, support acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, offer protection through non-violent presence, engage in public policy advocacy and, in general, stand in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation.
The EAPPI is based on principles of international humanitarian and human-rights law, including resolutions of the UN Security Council, General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights. One of the EAPPI guiding principles is 'principled impartiality', the EAPPI Code of Conduct states: 'We do not take sides in this conflict and we do not discriminate against anyone but we are not neutral in terms of principles of human rights and international humanitarian law. We stand faithfully with the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. We want to serve all parties in this conflict in a fair and unbiased manner in word and action.'
Our approach is based on our belief that the occupation is harmful not only to Palestinians but also to Israelis and from our concern about the suffering experienced by both peoples, Palestinians and Israelis. We acknowledge the humanity of everyone involved in this conflict, be they victims or perpetrators of violence and human rights abuses, but the programme demonstrates our solidarity with people on both sides of this conflict who strive non-violently to end the occupation and achieve a just peace.
We have a deep concern for the safety and dignity for all those we work with, and provide protective presence wherever possible. However, the protection we provide is by presence alone and as such is limited – we recognise that we cannot protect civilians from suicide bombings, rockets or military operations because of the nature of such acts.
We also wish to support local people, whenever they find it possible, to become agents in their own protection and to help protect one another. At the same time, we acknowledge that local people's confidence and freedom for manoeuvre may be severely reduced, although it is not zero. Wherever possible we will look to support the increase of local peoples' potential for action in pursuit of their own protection and safety in ways that demonstrates and accentuates people's interdependence.
While the programme's mission is to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation, some of its detailed objectives are to:
- Participate in the daily life and work of Palestinian and Israeli civil society, Churches and Christian communities. For example, we take part in the annual olive harvest, meet and learn from the experiences of Israeli activists in Jerusalem, Haifa and Sderot, and regularly attend church services in Jerusalem, Nablus and Bethlehem.
- Be visibly present in vulnerable communities, locations or events, e.g. near Israeli settlements and the wall/fence, schools and homes, fields & orchards.
- Actively listen to local people's experiences and give voice to peoples' daily suffering under occupation and write or speak about these experiences in their reports and public speaking engagements.
- Monitor the conduct of Israeli soldiers and settlers (e.g. at checkpoints and other barriers and during demonstrations and other military actions) and contact relevant organizations and authorities to request intervention.
- Engage in non-violent ways with perpetrators of human rights abuses.
- Produce high quality, first-hand written materials, testimonies and analysis.
- Report on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that EAs witness and document and use these reports to inform governments and intergovernmental bodies and press them to take action.
- Engage with the media locally, nationally and internationally.
- Be part of international advocacy and networking activities that highlight the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories.
Further to the call by the local churches of Jerusalem, as expressed to the ecumenical delegation to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) in June 2001, and at the International Ecumenical Consultation in Geneva in August 2001, the WCC Executive Committee meeting of September 2001 recommended to "develop an accompaniment programme that would include an international ecumenical presence" and which would build upon and develop the experiences which had been gained from the Christian Peacemaker Teams, and which would also be closely linked to the local churches.
After extensive consultation with the churches and ecumenical partners and following the initial phase of assessment and feasibility (October 2001 - January 2002), the WCC International Relations team convened a meeting of the Accompaniment Working Group on February 1-2, 2002, in Geneva in order to develop the framework of the accompaniment programme for the approval of the WCC Executive Committee in February 2002. With the approval of the WCC Executive Committee, the EAPPI was launched, originally as part of the WCC Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine: Support a Just Peace in the Middle East, which was itself the first annual initiative of the WCC Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace (2001-2010).
Thus responding to the call from the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem to stand in solidarity with the churches and people in Palestine, accompaniers were sought by the participating churches to volunteer for three month periods. The programme has functioned fully since then, with Ecumenical Accompaniers constantly in placements working with many different local people in numerous locations.
Read some of the WCC policy documents for more background information on to the EAPPI programme.