Office of Government Relations

EPPN Lenten Series Part 2: Spotlight on Negotiations

March 12, 2014
Office of Government Relations

EPPN Lenten Series Part 2: Supporting Peace in the Land of the Holy One

Spotlight on Negotiations

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. – Matthew 4

Last week, as we began our Lenten journey together, we looked at the notion of reconciliation.   In a practical sense, reconciliation means an openness to submit to a reality wider than our own, to consider the narratives and viewpoints of another and to find a future in a new reality – a new shared narrative – that is created together.   Just as the devil tempts Jesus with the notion of a certain kind of worldly dominance over the kingdoms of the world in the Gospel given to us for the First Sunday in Lent, so too is it easy for us to be tempted by what seems obviously right to us in the ways of the world. 

Finding a breakthrough, finding reconciliation, involves doing as Jesus does (?) and placing our whole and complete trust in the God who is reconciliation and who continually calls us to a different, less obvious road.

As we examined on Ash Wednesday, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rife with conflicting narratives and realities. The Episcopal Church, like the Churches of the Holy Land themselves, has long supported not just a two-state solution, but a negotiated two state solution.  That is, a solution in which Israelis and Palestinians themselves bear the responsibility together for creating a shared future of peace.   Our Church has said repeatedly what we believe a just and lasting peace might entail – “a secure and universally recognized State of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people, with a shared Jerusalem as the capital of both” – but we have been equally clear that it is up to Israelis and Palestinians themselves to determine how to get there.

Israelis and Palestinians, with the backing of the United States government and particularly the personal investment of Secretary of State John Kerry, are working to walk that path of reconciliation.   Secretary Kerry is working urgently to publish a framework for negotiations that will support the two sides in coming to a concrete, expeditious, lasting, and just peace.   

Secretary Kerry, like those working alongside him on each side, recognizes that time is the enemy.  There are countless dynamics working against negotiations: regional instability and global actors invested in a course other than peace, power differentials between the two sides, ongoing violence and disproportionate responses by each against the other, the creation by each side of “facts on the ground” that make the path to peace seem more complicated as each day passes.  Then, there are the thorny issues at the center of negotiations, including borders, security, refugees, the status of Jerusalem, Gaza, and more.  (We will look at these in coming weeks.)

Moreover, all parties know that there has been a long history, over many decades, of Middle East peace negotiations that have failed to produce a final peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.


One thing seems certain, and that is that if negotiations are to succeed, Americans will need to support the U.S. government in pressing boldly for peace and walking alongside Israelis and Palestinians as they seek to make peace.   As we noted last week, a group of high-level interfaith leaders, including our Presiding Bishop, recently crafted a message in support of the current negotiations efforts.   How can you help?  Right now, there is an urgent need for Americans to urge their members of Congress – whose support for Secretary Kerry’s efforts will be essential – to stand with the Administration in this important work.   Click HERE to send a message to your lawmakers and share with them the text of the recent interfaith letter our Presiding Bishop signed.

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