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Religious Leaders Urge Strong U.S. Leadership For Israeli-Palestinian Peace Before It’s Too Late

 
May 20, 2011

WASHINGTON—In a letter to President Obama the day after his speech affirming peace is possible and declaring U.S. support for a two-state solution based on 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps, leaders of more than 25 Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious organizations urged strong U.S. leadership for Israeli-Palestinian peace before it is too late.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), were among the signers.

The leaders urged the President “to visit Jerusalem and the region soon to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to restart negotiations focused on the principles and ideas in the recent Israeli Peace Initiative, the earlier Arab Peace Initiative and the Geneva Accord.”

They stated “the United States, in coordination with the Quartet, should continue to respond carefully to the new Palestinian unity agreement and not act precipitously to cut off aid to the Palestinians,” but said the Palestinian “unity government must commit itself to rejecting violence and negotiating a peace agreement with Israel.”

The leaders pledged their “prayers and public support for active, fair and firm U.S. leadership for peace” and they urged “Congress to support this effort.” The religious leaders also plan to place an advertisement with Politico, a Washington-based media outlet.

Texts of the letter and advertisement follow.

 

May 20, 2011

Dear Mr. President,

We are leaders of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim national religious organizations who supported your commitment to make Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace a high priority from the start of your presidency.

Following our April 14 letter and Secretary of State Clinton’s response on your behalf, reiterating your Administration’s commitment to seek peace, and your strong reaffirmation in yesterday’s speech that peace is possible, we write again to offer our united support for urgently needed strong, sustained U.S. leadership, in coordination with the Quartet, to press for agreement on a two-state peace agreement before it is too late. If the opportunity for a two-state solution is missed, there almost inevitably will be renewed violent conflict with more suffering for Israelis and Palestinians, and increased dangers of extremism.

The recent Israeli Peace Initiative presented by former Israeli government, intelligence and security officials, the earlier Arab Peace Initiative, and the Geneva Accord, taken together, offer key principles and ideas for achieving comprehensive Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace. We urge you to visit Jerusalem and the region soon to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to restart negotiations focused on the principles and ideas in these initiatives.

We believe the United States, in coordination with the Quartet, should continue to respond carefully to the new Palestinian unity agreement and not act precipitously to cut off aid that is essential for humanitarian purposes and for building the capacity of a future Palestinian state.The agreement is helpful in forming a government capable of representing the West Bank and Gaza together. The unity government must commit itself to rejecting violence and negotiating a two-state peace agreement with Israel. We believe the United States should insist on these commitments.

We pledge our prayers and public support for active, fair and firm U.S. leadership in pursuing peace. We will urge Congress to be constructive.We believe that, in exercising strong U.S. leadership for peace, you can count on substantial support from members of churches, synagogues, and mosques across the country.

(List of Endorsers follows, organizations for identification only)

Cc: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
National Security Advisor Tom Donilon
Members of Congress

List of Endorsers

Christian Leaders:
His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington *
Bishop Howard Hubbard, Chairman, International Committee, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops*
Archbishop Vicken Aykasian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenia Orthodox Church in America*
Fr. Mark Arey, Director, Ecumenical Officer, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America*
The Reverend Peg Chemberlin, President, National Council of Churches of Christ USA*
The Reverend Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ USA*
Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America*
The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal Church*
The Reverend Geoffrey Black, General Minister & President, United Church of Christ*
The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)*
The Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)*
Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church*
The Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries, Board Member, World Vision US*
Richard J. Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary*
David Neff, Editor in Chief and Vice-President, Christianity Today*
The Reverend John M. Buchanan, Editor and Publisher, Christian Century*
Jewish Leaders:
Rabbi Peter Knobel, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis*
Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis*
Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, Vice President, A Different Future*
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Rector, American Jewish University*
Rabbi Burton Visotzky, Professor of Midrash & Interreligious Studies, Jewish Theological Seminary*
Rabbi Freddi Cooper, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Assembly*
Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Director of Congregational Services, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation*
Dr. Carl Sheingold, Former Executive Vice President, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation*
Muslim Leaders:
Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America*
Imam Mohammed ibn Hagmagid, Vice President, Islamic Society of North America*
Naeem Baig, Executive Director, Islamic Circle of North America*
Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA*
Eide Alawan, Interfaith Office for Outreach, Islamic Center of America*
 
*Organizations for Identification Only

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Before It’s Too Late:
Strong U.S. Leadership Needed Now.
 
Mr. President,
 
We are Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious leaders united in support of strong U.S. leadership for a two-state solution before it is too late.
 
We urge you to visit Jerusalem and the region soon to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to restart negotiations focused on the principles and ideas in the Israeli Peace Initiative, the earlier Arab Peace Initiative and the Geneva Accord.
 
We believe the United States, in coordination with the Quartet, should continue to respond carefully to the new Palestinian unity agreement and not act precipitously to cut off aid to the Palestinians.The unity government must commit itself to rejecting violence and negotiating a two-state peace agreement with Israel.
 
We pledge our prayers and public support for active, fair and firm U.S. leadership for peace and we will urge Congress to support this effort
 
 
(See above for list of endorsers, titles for identification only)
 
(See the full text of the Letter at the website of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East: www.nili-mideastpeace.org.)

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Keywords: letter, President Barack Obama, speech, peace, two-state solution, 1967 borders. Jewish, Christian, Muslim, religious leaders, Israel, Palestine, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Committee on International Justice and Peace, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB

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