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November 11, 2004
The Honorable George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops shares your belief that the death of President Yasser Arafat is a “significant moment” and brings a “period of transition” for the Palestinian people and for all those who pray and work for a just peace in the Middle East.
Without active engagement and strong leadership from the United States, we fear this moment will be lost and the region will continue to be torn apart by the violence and retaliation, occupation and despair that have frustrated the hopes and destroyed the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Now is the time to insist that the leaders of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority renew and make effective the pledges they have made to you and to each other to seek an end to violence and occupation, pursue a path of dialogue and negotiations, and take steps that will lead to two peoples and two independent and sovereign states living in peace and security.
In order to improve the possibilities for peace, we ask you to provide presidential and sustained U.S. leadership to actively engage both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in a step-by-step peace process. For more than a year now we have worked with our partners in the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East to bring together Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders in promoting a just peace to the conflict in the land all of us call holy. Our Conference recommends to you the enclosed twelve “Urgent Steps for Peace” advocated by this unprecedented group of interfaith leaders.
As you begin a new Administration, there may now be new opportunities to pursue the Road Map and bring about your commitment to two states living in security and peace. We will do all we can to support renewed and strong leadership to bring about a just and lasting peace that will safeguard the lives and dignity of both Israelis and Palestinians. We would be happy to share further with you our concerns and to assist in any way we can.
Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Bishop of Belleville
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