Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) wrote to Secretary of State Rice and issued this Action Alert: Gaza Crisis Threatens Nascent Peace Process.
This Action Alert is available online at: www.cmep.org/Alerts/2008Jan23.htm
January 23, 2008
Today's news of thousands of Gazans flooding the border into Egypt demonstrates the urgency of the Gaza crisis, which has been building over some time, but has now escalated in a dangerous way.
In a January 20th op-ed, "Defusing the Gaza Time Bomb," Robert Malley presciently warned that Gaza is the "most likely trigger for the next Arab-Israeli war" with the cost of continued escalation "enormous loss of life, a generation of radicalized and embittered Gazans, and another bankrupt peace process" [http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/01/20/defusing_the_gaza_time_bomb/]. ].
In a letter to Secretary Rice earlier this month, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) expressed her concern that "this fragile [peace] process will become derailed by the continued violence in Gaza" [http://www.cmep.org/Legislative_Issues/Lee_Rice_Letter_on_Gaza.pdf].
CMEP's Executive Director Warren Clark and Board Chair Maureen Shea wrote to Secretary of State Rice today, with copies to State Department and White House officials as well as foreign embassies, urging her "concerted diplomatic effort" to help bring about a ceasefire and avert a further humanitarian crisis in Gaza. (For more information on the current humanitarian situation, see Caritas Jerusalem's latest statement [http://www.cmep.org/documents/Caritas_Jerusalem_Gaza_statement.pdf].
CMEP's call for urgent action echoes that of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem and the Holy Land who in a January 22nd message said, "Only bold steps toward [a] just peace and ending the violence will protect the human life and dignity of both people." [http://www.cmep.org/Statements/2008Jan22_Jerusalem_Church_Leaders_Gaza_Siege.htm].
The full text of the CMEP letter is included below.
Send a message to Secretary Rice: End Gaza Crisis Now and Restore Hope for Peace
Email Web Form - http://contact-us.state.gov/cgi-bin/state.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php
Key Points from CMEP Letter:
* As an American Christian, I am greatly concerned about the escalating Gaza crisis. I ask for your urgent diplomatic effort now to help bring about a ceasefire and avert a further humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
* The rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and imposed suffering on the general population of Gaza, including the cutoff or the threat of cutoff of vital food, fuel, electricity and adequate access to medical attention, must stop.
* We offer our prayers and support for your urgent action to ensure that the diplomatic process begun at the Annapolis conference can succeed and a peace agreement can be reached by the end of this year.
CMEP Letter to Sec. Rice on Gaza Crisis
Letter in PDF format - http://www.cmep.org/letters/CMEP_Rice_Gaza_Crisis_Jan_08.pdf
January 23, 2008
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madam Secretary,
We write to you today with great concern about the recent escalation of violence in and around Gaza. Rocket attacks against Israel by Palestinian militant groups and retaliatory responses by Israel that include the cutoff or the threat of cutoff of vital food, fuel, electricity and adequate access to medical attention for the residents of Gaza are creating an untenable situation that threatens to derail the nascent but vitally important peace process. Neither the rocket attacks nor imposed suffering on the general population of Gaza can be justified. Today's breach of the Gaza-Egypt border only underscores the urgency of this current crisis that risks continued escalation.
We welcome your January 22nd statement calling on both sides not only to reduce the violence but also to start to think more creatively about how to address the current situation in Gaza, perhaps by giving the Palestinian Authority a greater role at the border crossings as suggested by Prime Minister Fayyad, an idea endorsed by the Quartet and called for by the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Christian Churches in Jerusalem. We urge your concerted diplomatic effort now, together with Egypt and the international community, to help bring about a ceasefire and avert a further humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Progress towards a viable Palestinian state living at peace alongside a secure Israel as called for by the President will require wise management of the current Gaza crisis to help lay the groundwork for a united Palestinian polity capable of implementing a durable peace. We offer our prayers and support for your urgent action to ensure that the diplomatic process begun at the Annapolis conference and continued with your and President Bush's visit to the region this month can succeed.
Warren Clark, Executive Director
Maureen Shea. Chair of the Board
Save the Date for CMEP's 2008 Advocacy Conference, Calming the Storm: Middle East Peacemaking in a Turbulent Time, April 20-22, 2008 - Washington, DC [http://www.cmep.org/2008_conference/2008_conference_mainpage.htm].
Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of a coalition of church bodies and religious orders and institutions.
Churches for Middle East Peace