In a much anticipated White House meeting Monday, President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time and discussed U.S. and Israeli positions on the peace process and Iran. Click here for an analysis of the meeting by CMEP’s Director Warren Clark.
Churches for Middle East Peace welcomed the President’s strong affirmation of the two-state solution and his demand that all parties – Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab States – take actions in pursuit of peace, including his focus on the need for settlements to stop and for progress to made on the Gaza humanitarian situation. On the issue of how to sequence pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and addressing Iran’s nuclear capacity, CMEP also welcomed the President’s affirmation that the U.S. has to move “aggressively on both fronts” and wants Iran to be “a full-fledged member of the international community.”
Send an email to President Obama. Let him know that American Christians support robust U.S. diplomacy to establish a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel and foster a more peaceful and secure Middle East.
President Obama strongly affirmed his previous statements that it is in the interest of all parties, “to achieve a two-state solution” and stressed that “all the parties involved have to take seriously obligations that they previously agreed to,” including in the road map and at Annapolis.
Obama pressed Netanyahu on the difficult steps Israel must take, stating unequivocally that “settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward.” His statement came as construction is underway for a new West Bank settlement called Maskiyot.
Obama addressed the humanitarian situation in Gaza emphasizing that while rocket attacks on Israel are unacceptable, the fact that the people of Gaza “have no hope…can’t even get clean water” and the “border closures are so tight that it is impossible for reconstruction and humanitarian efforts to take place” is not compatible with moving forward on peace. The President also said that Palestinians must do more to provide Israel with security assurance and that Arab states have to be “bolder in seeking potential normalization with Israel.”
Let President Obama know that you welcome his attention to the issue of settlements and Gaza and support his vigorous diplomacy with both Israel and the Palestinians to ensure meaningful progress toward peace.
During the press conference, Netanyahu stated his desire to “to start peace negotiations with the Palestinians immediately” with the goal of ending the conflict, but failed to utter the words two-state solution or Palestinian state. He also set up various conditions for successful negotiations, including once again the demand that Palestinians “recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
President Obama is set to meet with Palestinian President Abbas and Egyptian President Mubarak next week, followed by a major speech in Cairo on June 4. He needs to hear that American Christians welcome strong U.S. leadership on behalf of Middle East peace.
“The Common Goal is Peace,” Transcript of Press Conference Following President Obama Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, White House Blog, May 18, 2009
“CMEP Analysis of the Obama-Netanyahu Washington Summit May 18: What Happened and What Next?“, Warren Clark, Churches for Middle East Peace, May 20, 2009
“Emphasis Differs for Obama, Netanyahu,” Scott Wilson, Washington Post, May 19, 2009
“Settlement construction taking shape in Maskiyot“, Joshua Mitnick, Washington Times, May 19, 2009
“Netanyahu caught between Obama, Israeli settlers“, Joshua Mitnick, The Christian Science Monitor, May 18, 2009
“Obama Presses Netanyahu over Two-State Plan,” BBC, May 18, 2009
“Netanyahu: US to Present New Plan,” Hilary Leila Krieger and Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2009
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Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men’s Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Friars OFM (English Speaking Conference, JPIC Council), Friends Committee on National Legislation, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, Moravian Church in America, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church (GBCS & GBGM).
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