Religious Leaders Urge New Attention To Middle East Peace

March 1, 2012 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—The NationalInterreligious Leadership Initiative has voiced concern for efforts forArab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace in a statement issued March 1and noted the plea“is more urgent than ever.”

Theleaders of major Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious organizationsissued their statement March 1. Their full statement can be found at

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/upload/NILI-Statement-with-Endorsers-2012-03-01.pdf

Signers included Bishop Richard E.Pates, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committeeon International Justice and Peace; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, ArchbishopEmeritus of Washington; and Bishop Denis J. Madden, Auxiliary Bishop ofBaltimore.

TheLeadership Initiative specifically called on the Administration, Congress andcandidates for office to do the following:

•Addresswarnings to both sides to prevent violence, and undertake diplomatic efforts,in coordination with the Quartet, to help maintain a durable, effectiveceasefire; all attacks on civilians must immediately end;

•Continueto support Palestinian state-building and economic development capacity,including immediately lifting the Congressional hold on humanitarian aid;

•SupportPalestinian efforts to form a government capable of representing the West Bankand Gaza on the essential conditions that it agree to halt violence, respectall existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, andnegotiate a two-state peace agreement with Israel;

•UrgeIsrael to halt all settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem; and

•Urgea resumption of negotiations for a two-state peace agreement, based on U.N.Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, and drawing on elements fromthe Arab Peace Initiative (2002), the unofficial Israeli Peace Initiative(2011), and the Geneva Accord (2003) which might lead to an agreementacceptable to both sides.

The leaders alsolisted factors that make the peace in the Middle East of critical concern. Theyinclude

•Hopesand challenges related to the Arab Spring, including concerns for the rights ofminorities;

•Aftermathof the war in Iraq, including challenges to Iraqi democracy and stability;

•Futureof Afghanistan as the U.S./NATO role winds down;

•Tensionsin U.S.-Pakistan relations;

•Deepeningcrisis in Syria; and

•Dangersof confrontation over Iran’s nuclear development activities.

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Keywords: Middle East, Bishop Richard Pates, CardinalTheodore McCarrick, Bishop Denis Madden, Palestine, Israel, Arab, NationalInterreligious Leadership Initiative, United States. Pakistan, Iraq,Afghanistan, NATO, democracy, Christian

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