Sunday, June 17, 2007

Support Robust U.S. Diplomacy to Achieve Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Support Robust U.S. Diplomacy to Achieve Israeli-Palestinian Peace

June 13, 2007
From Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)

An important new resolution in support of robust U.S. diplomacy to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace was introduced in the Senate last week. S. Res. 224 reaffirms the Senate's commitment to a "true and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the establishment of 2 states, the State of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, with recognized borders." The resolution is co-sponsored by Sens. Feinstein (D-CA), Lugar (R-IN), Dodd (D-CT), Hagel (R-NE), Baucus (D-MT), Byrd (D-WV), Sununu (R-NH), Voinovich (R-OH) and Whitehouse (D-RI).

Noting that this past week was the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war and resulting occupation, S. Res. 224, which sees the anniversary as an occasion for all parties "to redouble their efforts to achieve peace," is a significant, positive Congressional initiative in support of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

The resolution calls on President Bush to "pursue a robust diplomatic effort to engage the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, begin negotiations, and make a 2-state settlement a priority." It also "welcomes the Arab League Peace Initiative" and "calls on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to embrace efforts to achieve peace and refrain from taking any actions that would prejudice the outcome of final status negotiations."

Upon introducing the resolution Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) said, "A just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace agreement, is in the national interest of the United States and should be a top priority in the region." Sen. Lugar (D-IN) said, "This Resolution reaffirms the United States' commitment to achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians. On the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, it is time to redouble our efforts to support the majority of Israelis and Palestinians who desire peace."

What's At Stake:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Policy Base
The ELCA has called for continued U.S. leadership in support of a viable, contiguous, independent Palestinian state and a secure Israel. The ELCA has urged U.S. leaders to engage exert stronger diplomatic pressure to this end, called for an end to all forms of violence and call on the parties to take steps toward final status negotiations and refrain from actions that would prejudice such talks. A number of these actions were endorsed by Churchwide Assemblies and resolutions adopted by the Church Council and are included in the Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine adopted by the Church Council in April 2005.

For three generations Palestinian Christians and Muslims have suffered the loss of their land and dignity, disruption of their livelihood, and lack of human rights. Along with the Palestinians, Israeli Jews have suffered the fear and pain of ongoing warfare and insecurity. This land is sacred to three major monotheistic religions, whose adherents deserve safe and unfettered access. On the positive side, this common cause offers opportunities for collaboration. In terms of global politics, what happens in the Holy Land can either help resolve conflict in the Middle East or expand it into even more deadly conflicts.

As Churches for Middle East Peace notes, "The 22 Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches that comprise the CMEP coalition have long supported a two-state solution to the conflict with a secure Israel living side-by-side in peace with a viable Palestinian state and sharing Jerusalem. A lasting and durable solution to the conflict is in the best interest of the United States, Israel, the Palestinians and moderate forces throughout the Middle East." The ELCA has been an active participant in these efforts since CMEP's inception.

Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson has been an active member of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative which recently made strong appeals to Secretary Rice to make Middle East peace a priority, appoint a special envoy and take advantage of the re-launch of the Arab Peace Initiative to advance negotiations.

Further background and previous actions of the ELCA are available at

Send a letter to your Senators who aren't already cosponsoring S Res 224

Below is the sample letter:

Subject: Please co-sponsor S. Res. 224

Dear ... ,
As an American person of faith, I support robust U.S. engagement to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution with Israel living in peace and security alongside a viable and contiguous Palestinian state.

The resolution's emphasis on the need for all parties to work toward peace on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 War is an important message for Americans, Israelis, Palestinians and internationally. I appreciate the Senate's constructive, forward-looking approach, which will help move the peace process forward.

I agree that achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace could have significant positive impacts on security and stability in the Middle East. Vigorous and persistent U.S. engagement in the peace process is in the best interests of the United States, Israel, the Palestinians and the wider region.

I urge Congress to strengthen Secretary Rice's current diplomatic efforts and encourage sustained engagement on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking by the United States. U.S. diplomacy together with moderate Arab states could help quell the current Israeli-Palestinian violence and open the door to negotiations with the Arab League Peace Initiative as a platform for dialogue.

Please co-sponsor S. Res. 224, the Feinstein/Lugar resolution which reaffirms the Senate's commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


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