NILI: Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace Is More Urgent Than Ever
National Interreligious Leadership Initiative statement on peace in the Middle East
Thirty Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders Declare
Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace Is More Urgent Than Ever; and Caution Candidates
To Avoid Rhetoric That Harms Chances for a Two-State Peace Agreement
In the context of momentous developments in the Middle East, leaders of major Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious organizations “affirm with urgency that Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace is more vital than ever.” Leaders remain guided by “Principles of Cooperation” that acknowledge their bonds with those on different sides of the conflict and reemphasize their common agenda for peace.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ are members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative. Both churches’ General Ministers and Presidents, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins and the Rev. Geoffrey Black, endorsed the statement.
Appreciating that “the months ahead, leading up to U.S. national elections, present a special challenge,” they urged “candidates not to use any rhetoric that could make prospects for peace more problematic. “As Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, we strongly caution candidates to do no harm to chances for a two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.”
More specifically, the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East calls on the Administration, the Congress and candidates for office to support the following steps:
- Address warnings to both sides to prevent violence, and undertake diplomatic efforts, in coordination with the Quartet, to help maintain a durable, effective ceasefire; all attacks on civilians must immediately end;
- Continue to support Palestinian state-building and economic development capacity, including immediately lifting the Congressional hold on humanitarian aid;
- Support Palestinian efforts to form a government capable of representing the West Bank and Gaza on the essential conditions that it agree to halt violence, respect all existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and negotiate a two-state peace agreement with Israel;
- Urge Israel to halt all settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem; and
- Urge a resumption of negotiations for a two-state peace agreement, based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, and drawing on elements from the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), the unofficial Israeli Peace Initiative (2011), and the Geneva Accord (2003) which might lead to an agreement acceptable to both sides.
The national religious leaders pledged to urge members of their communities across the country “to work actively in the coming months to preserve and further prepare the ground for Middle East peace, and to support positive efforts by political leaders in both parties to help move towards this goal.”