National Interreligious Leadership Initiative For Peace in the Middle East
Press Release from www.nili-mideastpeace.org , December 27, 2007
In the Spirit of the Recent Holidays and Hopes Raised by the Annapolis Conference Religious Leaders Call For Determined U.S. Leadership for Mideast Peace in 2008
In the spirit of Hannukhah, Christmas and Eid al Adha and in light of renewed hopes generated by the Annapolis conference, religious leaders of the unprecedented National Interreligious Leadership Initiative (NILI) are calling for active, determined leadership by Secretary of State Rice and President Bush in 2008 to help Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations succeed. NILI leaders include H.E. Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Rabbi David Saperstein, Bishop Mark Hanson, Dr. Sayyid Syeed, David Neff, and heads of twenty-five national organizations. NILI is urging public support, including Congressional support, to achieve the following results. (Full statement at: http://nili-mideastpeace.org/advocacy.html.)
Consistent with the Road Map, the United States should press urgently for reciprocal steps by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to improve conditions on the ground and restore hope that a peace agreement is possible. Steps should include a comprehensive ceasefire; the Palestinian Authority developing effective coordinated security, ending illegal arms shipments and militias; and Israel freezing expansion of settlements, releasing Palestinian prisoners, and easing movement for Palestinians. Public monitoring of these steps is essential.
On principles for resolving final status issues, including borders, security, settlements, refugees, and Jerusalem, NILI is urging the Administration to support benchmark ideas developed by Israelis and Palestinians in official and unofficial negotiations over many years, and reflected in the Geneva Accord. (http://nili-mideastpeace.org/geneva.html) Public opinion polls report majority support among Israelis and Palestinians for a peace agreement along these lines.
NILI is concerned that the split in Palestinian governance between the West Bank and Gaza is incompatible with durable peace. Acknowledging the sensitivity of this issue, NILI advocates quiet U.S. support for efforts to form a new unified Palestinian government capable of representing the West Bank and Gaza, and committed to rejecting violence and negotiating a two-state solution with Israel.
Appreciating the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative and Arab states’ participation at Annapolis for comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, NILI is urging the Administration to help restart Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese-Israeli negotiations for peace.
NILI religious leaders believe our nation has an inescapable responsibility and indispensable role to play, and that achieving Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace will have important positive reverberations in the region and worldwide.
Contact: Ron Young (360) 652-4285 or USICPME@aol.com