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Statement on Developments in the Middle East


Most Reverend John H. Ricard, SSJ
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman, Committee on International Policy

February 10, 2005

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomes and supports the announcement by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to end the violence between their communities. We are also grateful for the renewed attention that President Bush is giving to the Middle East peace process. These developments represent a new hope for a just peace in the Holy Land.

The recent actions taken by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Mahmoud Abbas within their respective communities to end the violence and foster conditions for renewed negotiations are encouraging. We urge the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to seize this opportunity to make progress on resolving long standing disputes.

We also welcome President Bush sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region to give high visibility support and encouragement to these latest efforts by Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas. Her public declaration of “the commitment of the United States to this process at this time” could help make the difference between success and failure. Secretary Rice’s announcement of the appointment of a special security coordinator hopefully will help both sides in their efforts to curb the violence. The President’s upcoming meetings with President Abbas and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon present another welcome opportunity for U.S. leadership in the peace process.

These new steps by the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United States move us further along on the road to peace. We pray that these leaders will have the courage and support they need to meet the inevitable challenges that they will encounter on the way. And we pray for all Israelis and Palestinians at this time of renewed dialogue and hope. May our prayers for peace with justice be answered.


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