Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Church leaders' letter to president in advance of peace talks

Churches for Middle East Peace issued this bulletin today.

Christian Leaders Offer Words of Hope and Encouragement to President in Advance of Peace Talks

Christian leaders from a broad group of denominations and organizations sent a letter to President Obama on Monday expressing renewed hope and urging the U.S. to sustain its close cooperation with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In the letter, 28 leaders from Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant, Evangelical, and African American denominations and organizations recognized the unique opportunity that the talks present to resolve final status issues that have remained stumbling blocks. They stressed, however, the importance of avoiding statements or actions by either side that would undermine confidence in the negotiations, incite disrespect, or prejudge the outcome of final status issues.

The leaders echoed the belief that an agreement could come to fruition in one year and said they would work with both the American Jewish and Palestinian communities to assure them of achieving each people's aspirations for peace and security.

Click this link for the text of the letter and the list of church leaders who have signed it: http://cmep.org/letters/2010_Letters/Letter%20to%20the%20President%20083010.pdf

Here is the full text of the brief letter:

Dear Mr. President,

As leaders of American Christian faith communities deeply concerned with the need to end the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, we are pleased with the success of your diplomacy in bringing the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the Palestinian Authority together in Washington September 1-2 to restart direct negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement on final status issues within the coming year. We fully support your goal of ending the occupation that began in 1967 and achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace with a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security.

At the same time we have no illusions about the difficulty of the task ahead. Both sides hold deep convictions contrary to those held by the other. Although many issues have been clarified in past negotiations, major compromises by both sides will be needed at considerable political risk and cost. Without your help it seems unlikely that an agreement can be reached. Time is short. If an agreement is not reached within the coming year, it may not be reachable at all.

For that reason we call on you and your negotiating team to continue your vigilant efforts to help the parties find acceptable solutions. We are heartened by the statement of Senator George Mitchell that he will remain closely involved in the negotiations. The U.S. will need to empower both sides to take risks for peace and when necessary to make proposals to bridge remaining differences. The United States must be clear that actions or words by either side in the coming year that undermine confidence in the negotiations, incite disrespect or prejudge the outcome of final status issues will not be tolerated.

In support of this effort, we pledge to maintain and expand our dialogue on this issue with American Jewish and Palestinian communities and to assure them of our steadfast support for achieving the aspirations of both Israel and the Palestinian people for peace and security.

Mr. President, we are praying for you as you seek to bring God's justice and peace to a place torn by walls and weapons. We are convinced that with your vigilant support this dream can be fulfilled, and the lives of Palestinians and Israelis, as well as U.S. national security interests, can be transformed for the better.


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