Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Urges U.S. Action on Settlements

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Urges U.S. Action on Settlements

CMEP Urges U.S. Action on Settlements; 32 Senators Support Peacemaking Efforts

CMEP Urges U.S. Action on Settlements; 32 Senators Support Peacemaking Efforts

CMEP Letter to Sec. Clinton Urges Action on Settlements to Preserve Two-State Peace
32 Senators Send Strong Message of Support for U.S Peacemaking Efforts

Background: Peace Now (Israel) report on West Bank housing construction

CMEP Letter to Sec. Clinton Urges Action on Settlements to Preserve Two-State Peace
Churches for Middle East Peace sent a letter earlier today urging the Obama Administration to address promptly the problem of ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem if it is going to be successful in preserving hope for a negotiated two-state peace.  Click here to view the letter.    

Secretary of State Clinton as well as Special Envoy Sen. George Mitchell are currently in the Middle East, in meetings today in Cairo on Gaza reconstruction, and then on to Israel and the West Bank Tuesday and Wednesday.   It is important that Secretary Clinton hear from Americans that U.S. action on settlement activity is a necessary component of the Obama Administration’s peace initiative.  

Send an email to Secretary of State Clinton based on the CMEP letter included below.  

Background Reading:

CMEP Letter to Sec. Clinton, March 2, 2009 (PDF)
Settlement expansion plans, B’Tselem, February 27, 2009
Israel’s Settlement Expansion Plans Seriously Threaten All Hopes for Peace, American Taskforce on Palestine, February 27, 2009
Zero Tolerance Now, Lara Friedman and Hagit Ofran, Haaretz, February 27, 2009
Reps. Ackerman and Wexler Criticize Settlements, CMEP Bulletin, February 19, 2009
West Bank Land Seized As Israel Looks to Build, Karin Laub, Associated Press, February 17, 2009

Text of CMEP Letter

Letter in PDF format

Dear Madam Secretary,

Thank you for traveling to Cairo, Israel and the West Bank at this critical time for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Your visit and that of Special Envoy Senator Mitchell, together with recent statements by you and President Barack Obama, are encouraging signs of a serious commitment by this Administration to achieve a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace. 

We represent 22 national U.S. churches and church organizations — Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. We believe that urgent U.S. action must be taken now to preserve hope for a negotiated two-state solution. Any alternative raises serious problems or constitutes an invitation to ongoing conflict that would threaten both Israeli and U.S. national interests.   

As you know, there are immediate concerns related to the Gaza situation, including the need to solidify the cease-fire, reopen the border crossings and end weapons smuggling.  However, we write to you today with special concern about the impact of ongoing Israeli settlement activity.  The government of Israel recently cleared the way for expansion of the Efrat settlement south of Bethlehem.  These and hundreds of other plans are part of a broader pattern of unchecked settlement expansion throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem that is detrimental to the creation of a viable Palestinian state – a core U.S. objective, as you reiterated this past Friday, and a key element to Israel’s long-term security. 

We urge you to make clear during your current Mideast trip that the Obama Administration will not tolerate ongoing Israeli settlement activity.  In recent trips of our own, we have witnessed the success of Palestinian Authority efforts to increase law and order and prevent violence against Israelis.  However, these security initiatives are undermined, U.S. diplomatic credibility is called into question, and extremists on all sides are strengthened, so long as Israel does not freeze all settlement activity. The U.S. has a critical role to play in holding both Israel and the Palestinians accountable for their obligations and creating a climate where a return to negotiations is feasible.  

During this season of Lent, as Christians focus on the need for God’s grace and renewal, our prayers are with you, with Special Envoy Senator Mitchell and with President Obama that you will work for peace with boldness and not grow weary in the quest for a better future for all the peoples of the Holy Land.

Churches for Middle East Peace
James Fine, Board Chair 
Warren Clark, Executive Director  

32 Senators Send Strong Message of Support for U.S Peacemaking Efforts

CMEP issued an action alert last Wednesday when Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) began circulating a letter to Secretary of State Clinton commending the Obama Administration’s efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace and encouraging Sec. Clinton to use her Mideast trip to help further this important goal. Click here to view the text of the Feinstein letter to Sec. Clinton.  

In just two days, 32 Senators, representing nearly one-third of the Senate, signed on to this important letter, sending a strong message of Congressional support for robust U.S. efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.  

In an interview on Friday with Voice of America, Secretary Clinton said she will “help make progress toward a negotiated agreement to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; to create an independent, viable Palestinian state in both the West Bank and Gaza; and to provide Israel with the peace and security that it has long sought and which the people deserve to have.”


The list of Senators who signed is below.  If your Senator(s) are among them, please click here to send a thank-you.  

Diane Feinstein (D-CA); Daniel Akaka (D-HI); Mark Begich (D-AK); Kit Bond (R-MO); Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Richard Burr (R-NC); Maria Cantwell (D-WA); Benjamin Cardin (D-MD); Thomas Carper (D-DE); Robert Casey (D-PA); Thad Cochran (R-MS); Susan Collins (R-ME); Christopher Dodd (D-CT); Byron Dorgan (D-ND); Richard Durbin (D-IL); Russell Feingold (D-WI); Tom Harkin (D-IA); Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Mary Landrieu (D-LA); Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ); Carl Levin (D-MI); Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Patty Murray (D-WA); Ben Nelson (D-NE); John Rockefeller (D-WV); Olympia Snowe (R-ME); Arlen Specter (R-PA); Jon Tester (D-MT); David Vitter (R-LA); George Voinovich (R-OH); Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); Ron Wyden (D-OR).  

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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).