Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joins call for Middle East Peace Plan

Tuesday, September 22, 2009
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Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joined 30 religious leaders in a letter calling for a Middle East Peace Plan.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joined 30 religious leaders in a letter calling for a Middle East Peace Plan.

"We support President Obama"s determination to provide sustained, hands-on diplomatic leadership to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end through the creation of two viable, secure and independent states living side by side in peace and security," the letter notes. (Full text of letter appears at end.)


The letter was issued on September 22.


Noting the vast diversity of the signers, the letter states, "We find common cause in supporting strong U.S. leadership to achieve a negotiated, sustainable resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – a fundamental American interest that crosses racial, ethnic and religious lines."


Commending the President"s leadership and applauding his vision for a Middle East Peace Plan, the religious leaders note agreement and support for six principals, including "Israel"s right to exist in security and the right of the Palestinian people to a viable, sovereign and secure state of their own."


Recognizing that "there are many who will attempt to block the path to peace," the religious leaders continued, "We will stand with him as he promotes a fair and just resolution to this long-standing conflict and asks all parties to make the difficult but ultimately necessary compromises for peace."


The letter concluded with a "pledge to work with the President, to forge the path to peace and security for the Middle East."



The following is the letter, printed in full:



Letter in Support of a Comprehensive Middle East Peace:


An American National Interest Imperative



We come from varied ethnic backgrounds and religious faiths that are diverse. We are Democrats and Republicans. We are veterans of war and of the struggle for peace. Together, we are all Americans.


We find common cause in supporting strong U.S. leadership to achieve a negotiated, sustainable resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – a fundamental American interest that crosses racial, ethnic and religious lines.


We support President Obama"s determination to provide sustained, hands-on diplomatic leadership to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end through the creation of two viable, secure and independent states living side by side in peace and security.


The President has made resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a top priority since his very first day in office, and we commend his leadership. We applaud the vision the President has laid out for peace in the Middle East and the challenge he has laid down to all of us to help work for peace and a more positive future for the people of the region and the world.


This is a moment of great opportunity and urgency. After decades of tragic conflict, many Israelis and Palestinians despair of the possibility of peace. While the international community and majorities of the Israeli and Palestinian people are committed to a two-state solution as the best option for achieving peace and security, the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.


We express our support for U.S. leadership to chart a path to a better future and to the following principles:


· We support both Israel"s right to exist in security and the right of the Palestinian people to a viable, sovereign and secure state of their own.


· A peace agreement will need to fulfill UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and resolve critical issues of importance to the parties including refugees, borders, Jerusalem, settlements, and security.


· The Israelis and Palestinians, however, have not – on their own – been able to reach agreement. After nearly two decades of negotiations, we believe bold American leadership can help Israelis and Palestinians make the difficult decisions necessary to achieve lasting peace and hold the parties to account should they fail to honor their commitments.


· We support the sense of real urgency that the President brings to the issue and his determination to reach a negotiated resolution to the conflict during his first term in office.


· At the appropriate time, we will support the Administration if it decides to present proposals for a just and equitable solution that provides dignity, security and sovereignty for both peoples.


· Finally, we believe a peace agreement should be comprehensive – encompassing Syria and Lebanon as well as normalization of relations between Israel and the countries of the Arab world. We support the idea of a comprehensive regional peace that builds on the Arab Peace Initiative, with its offer of recognition and normalization of relations between Israel and all Arab nations in exchange for resolution of all outstanding issues.


Both sides must take steps to move the process forward, and we support the President"s efforts to end Israeli settlement growth and to halt Palestinian violence and incitement. It is now time to move to the next stage of diplomacy and to address the tough issues that must be resolved to bring this conflict to an end.


There are many who will attempt to block the path to peace. They may believe that the status quo favors their interests or that time is on their side. The President should know that we understand the status quo is unsustainable and time is of the essence. We will stand with him as he promotes a fair and just resolution to this long-standing conflict and asks all parties to make the difficult but ultimately necessary compromises for peace.


We pledge to work with the President, to forge the path to peace and security for the Middle East. We also pledge to work with those in both societies who seek peace, justice, and security, and to stand up for those who hope for a better future for themselves and for the generations that follow.



Sincerely,


Frank Anderson
Former Chief, Southeast Asian Division, CIA
President, Middle East Policy Council



Dr. Ziad Asali


President, American Task Force on Palestine



Robert Barkin


President; Jewish Reconstructionist Federation



Jeremy Ben-Ami


Executive Director, J Street



Ambassador Warren Clark


Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace



Debra DeLee


President, Americans for Peace Now



The Rev. Mark Hanson


Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


President, Lutheran World Federation



Father Theodore Hesburgh


President Emeritus, Notre Dame University



The Most Rev. Howard J. Hubbard


Bishop of Albany


Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops



Dr. Joel C. Hunter


Senior Pastor, Northland Church


Member, Executive Committee of the National Association of Evangelicals



Rev. Bill Hybels


Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church



Lynne Hybels


Advocate for Global Engagement, Willow Creek Community Church



Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon


General Secretary, National Council of Churches



Rabbi Peter Knobel


Former President, Central Conference of American Rabbis



Rabbi Charles Kroloff


Former President, Central Conference of American Rabbis



Imam Mohamed Magid


Imam and Executive Director, All Dulles Area Muslim Society, ADAMS Center, in Sterling, Virginia



Salam Al-Marayati


Executive Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council



Rev. John McCullough


Executive Director and CEO, Church World Service



Rev. Peter Morales


President, United Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations



Cardinal Theodore McCarrick


Archbishop Emeritus of Washington



David Neff


Editor in Chief, Christianity Today



Rev. Gradye Parsons


Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA)



Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf


Imam of Masjid al-Farah, New York City



Dr. Bob Roberts, Jr.


Senior Pastor, NorthWood Church, Dallas, TX



George Salem, Esq.


Chairman, Arab-American Institute


Strategic Advisor, DLA Piper LLP



Roland Santiago


Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee



The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori


Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church



Ron Sider


President, Evangelicals for Social Action



Rev. John Thomas


General Minister and President, United Church of Christ



Jim Zogby


President, Arab American Institute



**This letter reflects the opinions of the individual signatories. Institutions are listed for identification purposes only**



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