On June 1, 2004, in Washington, D.C., a delegation of prominent national Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, members of an unprecedented united, interreligious effort for peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states, met with Secretary of State Powell to present an urgent appeal for immediate U.S. action to pursue the Road Map to Peace.
Recalling President Bush’s recent declaration that, “the United States remains committed to the two state solution for peace in the Middle East … and to the Road Map as the best path to realize this vision,” the religious leaders express their urgent concern that “the Road Map has effectively been put on hold until after the elections.” In their appeal to Secretary Powell, the leaders expressed a united view that a high level U.S. leadership on behalf of the Road Map must restart now and would have the support of majorities in all of their communities.
The leaders say, “Recent events in Gaza demonstrate the terrible human costs and grave dangers for the Palestinian people and for Israel if the cycle of violence continues” and they believe “that unless the United States makes the Road Map and Israeli Palestinian negotiations an urgent priority now, the cycles of violence will jeopardize prospects for a two state solution, further alienate our European and Mideast Arab allies, exacerbate conflict in Iraq, and increase the terrorist threat to the United States.”
The delegation, members of the National Interrelgious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East, are united in their support of a viable, independent and democratic Palestinian state alongside the internationally recognized Jewish state of Israel, with enduring peace and security for both peoples. While the main message of the religious leaders’ Urgent Appeal to Secretary Powell is the call for active U.S. reengagement on behalf of the Road Map, the Appeal included four specific ideas for action:
The religious leaders believe “active U.S. reengagement to restart negotiations and provide concrete humanitarian and development assistance can help break the downward spiral of violence and despair, and renew people’s shattered hopes for peace in the Middle East.” Morover, they believe that “reengaged U.S. leadership for peace would be a timely, urgently needed message about our country’s positive role in the world.”
The religious leaders from Jewish, Christian and Muslim organizations are committed to helping mobilize public opinion to reinforce the urgency of U.S. reengagement in behalf of the Road Map. In their meeting today the leaders reiterated their call for Twelve Urgent Steps for Peace, which they believe have majority support among Americans and closely parallel steps called for in the May 4 statement by the Quartet (U.S., European Union, Russia and the U.N.).
Launched in December 2003, the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative unites some of the most prominent American religious leaders for determined, direct US leadership in pursuit of Arab Israeli Palestinian peace.
Members of the National Interreligious Initiative for Peace are:
In addition to meeting with Secretary of State Powell, the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative has sent letters outlining their position to President Bush, National Security Advisor Rice and to every member of Congress, citing the urgency of renewed US leadership for the Road Map. Convinced that peace in the Middle East should be a bipartisan priority, the leaders also intend to seek support for their Urgent Appeal from Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry.
The leaders reaffirm their commitments to help mobilize their constituencies for peace, including the following actions by some or all of the organizations represented:
The delegation members believe that both the deepest values of their traditions and the urgency of the current situation necessitate strong, united interfaith action now to mobilize their communities to support the U.S. leadership essential to achieving peace. The religious leaders believe that “the land which was the birthplace of all three Abrahamic religions can once again become a source of hope, justice and reconciliation for the whole world. Jerusalem can become the city of peace and U.S. leadership is urgently needed to help make it happen.”
Co Coordinators for the Delegation:
Ronald J. Young, Telephone: (360) 652 4285
and Dr. Bruce E. Wexler, Telephone (203) 974 7339
The National Interreligious Leadership Initiative is a collaborative effort of A Different Future, the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East, and the United Religions Initiative with assistance from the public relations firm of Ruder Finn and financial support from the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Foundation for Middle East Peace.