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WASHINGTON (April 15, 2011)—In response to the launching of a new Israeli Peace Initiative by former Israeli government, intelligence and security officials, leaders of twenty-five Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious organizations wrote to President Obama saying that they believe the initiative, along with the earlier Arab Peace Initiative and the Geneva Accord, offers key principles and ideas for comprehensive Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Signers of the April 14 letter included 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). The religious leaders sent the letter as participants in the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI).
“The main elements of these peace initiatives reflect years of official and informal, unofficial negotiations and include creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, based on the 1967 borders with possible limited land swaps as mutually agreed; a fair negotiated resolution of the issue of refugees that does not threaten the demography of Israel; the sharing of Jerusalem by Israel and the Palestinian state with both having their capitals in the city; and Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights as part of a peace agreement with Syria,” the religious leaders wrote.
Citing “the current stalemate in negotiations, the threat of escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and the goal and expectation that peace can be achieved this year,” the religious leaders said that “the United States, in coordination with the Quartet [the U.S., European Union, Russia, and U.N.] should support these elements being addressed in negotiations on an urgent basis.”
They encouraged President Obama to visit Jerusalem and the region soon, pledging “their prayers and public support for active, fair and firm U.S. leadership in this urgent endeavor.” The leaders believe that in providing such leadership, the President “can count on substantial support from members of churches, synagogues and mosques across the country.”
The full text of the statement can be found at: www.usccb.org/sdwp/PresidentObamaLetwEndorsersApril2011.pdf
Keywords: Israel, Palestine, Arab, peace, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, NILI, USCCB, National Interreligious Initiative for Peace in the Middle East, President Barack Obama, leadership
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