Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders of 25 national religious organizations wrote to President Obama today urging “a renewed, determined U.S. effort, in coordination with the Quartet, to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement before it is too late.”
The entities comprising the Quartet are the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.
The religious leaders warned that the Gaza war “demonstrated once again that there is no military solution to the conflict” and given developments on the ground, including violent clashes in Jerusalem, “simply urging the parties to return to negotiations is no longer sufficient.”
The signers of the letter represented the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East. Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, represented the U.S. bishops.
“We believe the outline for a two-state peace agreement is widely known and would likely be accepted by majorities of Israelis and Palestinians if presented by their leaders as the only viable alternative to more violence and war,” they wrote. “UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, the Taba Agreement (2001), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), People’s Voice Initiative (2003), the Geneva Initiative (2003), and the (unofficial) Israeli Peace Initiative (2011), taken together, provide practical and reasonable ideas for resolving all the issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees, and the future of Jerusalem.”
The leaders urged President Obama “to authorize Secretary of State Kerry, coordinating with the Quartet and drawing on internationally accepted principles and practical ideas from previous official and informal negotiations, to offer a balanced and fair framework to the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as the basis for negotiating a two-state peace agreement to end the conflict.”
“Active, fair and firm U.S. leadership in such a bold peace initiative will require strong, public support, especially from religious communities,” they wrote. “We pledge to mobilize support from our members in synagogues, churches and mosques across the country, and we would appreciate an early opportunity to meet with Secretary Kerry to discuss specific ways that we as religious leaders can help.”
The full text of the letter and list of signers is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/nili-letter-to-president-obama-urging-two-state-peace-agreement-01-21-2015.cfm