Jewish, Christian And Muslim Leaders Call For Bold New Initiative For Israeli-Palestinian Peace

January 25, 2013 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTONThirty Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders from theUnited States called for "a bold new U.S. initiative for a two-state peaceagreement before it is too late." They made the call in a statement sponsoredby the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the MiddleEast (NILI).

"The current dangerousstalemate, including the legacy of past failed peacemaking efforts,undermines our security and that of others, destabilizes the region, fuelsterrorism and extremism, allows continuing Israeli settlement expansion, andprolongs Palestinian disunity," wrote the leaders, who included retired CardinalTheodore McCarrick of Washington, Rabbi David Saperstein of the ReligiousAction Center of Reform Judaism, and Sayyid Syeed, Ph.D. of the IslamicSociety of North America. "These realities and the absence of negotiations threaten to killthe prospect of a viable two-state peace agreement, the only realistic solutionto the conflict."

The leadersacknowledged daunting challenges but said they "believe a bold new initiativefor an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement should be animmediate priority of the Obama Administration in 2013" and that they "fearthe opportunity for a peaceful resolution is rapidly waning and the currentstagnation encourages the rejectionists on both sides."

Theysaid the United States "has unique leverage and credibility in the region. Indeed,no past progress towards peace has occurred in this conflict without U.S.leadership, facilitation or staunch support. Once again, we need active, fairand firm U.S. leadership to help break the current deadlock and to achieve atwo-state peace agreement now before it is too late."

The Jewish,Christian and Muslim religious leaders of NILI are pledged to mobilize strong supportfor bold, determined U.S. leadership for peace in churches, synagogues andmosques across the country.

The full text of statementand a list of endorsers follows:

Twilight of Hope for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

National Interreligious Leadership Initiative forPeace in the Middle East

Twilight has fallen on thepossibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. AsJewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders committed to peace, we urgeimmediate, sustained U.S. leadership before darkness falls on the hopes for apeaceful resolution.

We recently witnessedshadows of dusk. We mourn for the lives lost and shattered during the violencethat gripped southern Israel and Gaza. What we have seen, recently and before,will keep happening if movement towards a viable two state-solution continuesto stagnate. The status quo is unsustainable and dangerous to both Israelis andPalestinians. Now is not the time for another cycle of recriminations. It istime to break the cycle of violence with bold initiatives for peace.

The current dangerous stalemate, including the legacy of pastfailed peacemaking efforts, undermines our security and that of others,destabilizes the region, fuels terrorism and extremism, allows continuingIsraeli settlement expansion, and prolongs Palestinian disunity.These realities and the absence ofnegotiations threaten to kill the prospect of a viable two-state peaceagreement, the only realistic solution to the conflict.

As people of faith, weproclaim that we should never underestimate what is possible. Egypt and theUnited States helped achieve a ceasefire in Gaza. With the support of theinternational community, Israelis and Palestinians can achieve a lasting peace.A new dawn is possible.

As members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiativefor Peace in the Middle East (NILI), we affirm President Obama's support for anegotiated two-state peace agreement that provides for a secure and recognizedIsrael living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestinian state.

We know the challenges are daunting, but we believe a bold newinitiative for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement should be animmediate priority of the new Administration in 2013. We fear the opportunityfor a peaceful resolution is rapidly waning and the current stagnation encouragesthe rejectionists on both sides. Our nation has unique leverage and credibilityin the region. Indeed, no past progress towards peace has occurred in thisconflict without U.S. leadership, facilitation or staunch support. Once again, we need active, fair and firm U.S.leadership to help break the current deadlock and to achieve a two-state peaceagreement now before it is too late.

The Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders of NILI arecommitted to mobilizing broad public support for U.S. leadership for peace. Wewill mobilize the strong support that exists in churches, synagogues andmosques across the country.

Twilight is upon us; but the hope for a new dawn remains. Let ustogether bring the new light of hope and work for negotiations leading to afinal status agreement.

January 2013

List of Endorsers

Christian Leaders:

Bishop Richard E. Pates, D.D., Chairman,USCCB Committee on International Justice and PeaceTheodore Cardinal McCarrick, ArchbishopEmeritus of Washington Bishop Denis J. Madden, AuxiliaryBishop of BaltimoreArchbishop Vicken Aykasian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenian Orthodox Church inAmericaFr. Mark Arey, Director, Office ofEcumenical Affairs, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of AmericaKathryn Mary Lohre,President,National Council of Churches of Christ USABishop Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop,Evangelical Lutheran Church in AmericaMost Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori,Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal ChurchReverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk,Presbyterian Church (USA)Reverend Geoffrey Black, GeneralMinister "& President, United Church of ChristReverend Dr. Sharon Watkins, GeneralMinister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)Bishop Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Councilof Bishops, United Methodist ChurchRichard Stearns, President, World VisionUSReverend Leighton Ford, President,Leighton Ford Ministries, Board Member, World Vision USDavid Neff, Editorial Vice-President,Christianity TodayJohn Buchanan, Editor/Publisher, TheChristian Century

Jewish Leaders:

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director,Religious Action Center of Reform JudaismRabbi Peter Knobel, Past President,Central Conference of American RabbisRabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D. Rector andDistinguished Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University Rabbi Burt VisotzkyRabbi Amy Small, Past President,Reconstructionist Rabbinical AssociationRabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive VicePresident Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis

Muslim Leaders:

Imam Mohammed Magid, President, IslamicSociety of North AmericaDr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, NationalDirector, Islamic Society of North AmericaNaeem Baig, Executive Director, IslamicCircle of North America Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder of theASMA Society and the Cordoba InitiativeImam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain,Georgetown UniversityDawud Assad, President Emeritus, Councilof Mosques, USAEide Alawan, Interfaith Office forOutreach, Islamic Center of America Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director,United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance

Organizations for Identification Only

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Keywords: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick,Rabbi David Saperstein, and Sayyid Syeed, Middle East, peace, Israel,Palestine, President Barack Obama, Bishop Richard Pates, International Justiceand Peace, USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, NationalInterreligious Leadership Intitiative for Peace in the Middle East, NILI

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