Churches for Middle East Peace writes Sec. Rice about Annapolis meeting
October 16, 2007
Churches for Middle East Peace - http://www.cmep.org/ - faxed a letter to Secretary of State Rice yesterday regarding the international meeting on Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will take place in Annapolis, probably in mid-November. The letter was also faxed to key contacts at State and the National Security Council and emailed to all Congressional offices. Signed by CMEP Board members, the letter makes several important points regarding the promise and potential of the Arab League Initiative, the need for a ceasefire and facilitation of movement of Palestinian goods and people, a reminder that Palestinians in Gaza must also find hope, an appeal to not allow violence to stop peacemaking, and a request for US action to show regard for East Jerusalem Palestinians.
CMEP tells Sec. Rice of CMEP’s efforts to build bipartisan support in Congress for the creation of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel and that CMEP will generate support from clergy and church members. CMEP is now preparing a mailing to congregations with a suggested prayer for peace and sample letter of support for peacemaking that follows up on our previous advocacy guidance. (Please send us contact information at firstname.lastname@example.org for your congregation, if you would like to be sure they receive the materials).
As mentioned in the CMEP letter, many observers are making recommendations to President Bush and Secretary Rice. On September 28th, you received the policy recommendations of the National Interreligious Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI) - http://www.cmep.org/Alerts/2007Sept28.htm
Recently, two groups of foreign policy luminaries have issued guidance documents. The Israel Policy Forum released on September 26 “A Guide to a Successful November International Conference” with six signers including Ambassadors Sam Lewis, Robert Pelletreau, Thomas Pickering and Edward Walker, Jr.- http://www.ipforum.org/public/pdfs/November%20Conference%20Policy%20Paper.pdf
A letter to President Bush and Sec. Rice, supported by the U.S./Middle East Project, Inc., the International Crisis Group, and the New America Foundation/American Strategy, was signed by eight, including Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brezinski and Theodore Sorenson among others -
CMEP Letter to Rice
October 15, 2007
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Dear Secretary Rice,
Thank you for organizing an international meeting dedicated to progress on a peace agreement that would end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Churches for Middle East Peace, a coalition of Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches and agencies, is urging members of Congress to promise bipartisan support for the President’s diplomatic initiative. Your bold leadership, with the strong backing of President Bush, can create momentum for continued progress and movement toward the creation of a viable democratic state of Palestine
alongside Israel, each sovereign and secure. Now is the time to build on the promise and potential of the Arab League Initiative and encourage the participation of its signers.
Clearly the situation on the ground discourages both leaders and ordinary people in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as international observers. We ask that you, in preparation for the conference, press hard for concrete steps by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to improve conditions, including securing a ceasefire and facilitating the movement of Palestinian goods and people. The generosity of international donors is necessary but insufficient. The Palestinian private sector needs to be able to function for real economic development and job creation to take place and generate hope. As we all know, a healthy Palestinian economy is
in the best interests of Israel as well.
The current division in Palestinian governance must not be allowed to thwart the success of the meeting in Annapolis and those that follow. We agree with you that there is one Palestinian people and there should be one Palestinian state and urge you to ensure that Palestinians in Gaza can also find hope in a political solution.
Many observers are making recommendations about a statement or declaration of principles that addresses the final status issues. Churches for Middle East Peace has a particular interest in a resolution of the status of Jerusalem that would allow both Israelis and Palestinians to claim the city as their capital, and for Jews, Christians and Muslims to fully enjoy the profound religious significance of the holy city and its holy sites.
While many of the fruits of peace will require considerable time to be evident, small changes in Jerusalem would provide hopeful evidence that the two-state vision will actually become reality. As an example, the United States could launch USAID projects to improve daily lives of Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
It is a grim lesson from the past that violent acts by extremists can be allowed to undermine progress made by peacemakers and public support for peace. We appeal to you to lead all parties to declare that peacemaking is unstoppable, and that violent extremists will not be allowed to achieve their political objectives of disrupting the peace process.
For our part Churches for Middle East Peace will work to generate support among the clergy and members of our churches for your efforts and will encourage congregations across the country to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the compassionate wisdom and bold courage that all political leaders in this momentous initiative will need.
Bishop Wayne Burkette
Moravian Church in America
Legislative Secretary for Foreign Policy
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Dennis W. Frado
Director, Lutheran Office for World Community
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Sr. Donna Graham, OSF
President, English-speaking Conference JPIC Council
Franciscan Friars (OFM)
The Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey
Alliance of Baptists
Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Director, Washington Office
Presbyterian Church, USA
Rev. Phil Jones
Director, Washington Office
Church of the Brethren Witness
Director, Washington Office for Advocacy
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos
Associate General Secretary for International Affairs and Peace
National Council of Churches USA and
Representative, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Rev. Jim Kofski
Maryknoll Global Concerns
Peter E. Makari
Middle East and Europe Global Ministries
United Church of Christ and
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. John L. McCullough
Executive Director and CEO
Church World Service
T. Michael McNulty, SJ
Justice and Peace Director
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
The Very Rev. George Rados
Representative, Antiochian Christian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America
Office of Government Relations
The Episcopal Church
Ann V. Staal
Reformed Church in America
General Board of Church & Society
United Methodist Church
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