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PC(USA) stated clerk signs on to letter calling for just peace in Israel/Palestine

Group urges Obama to take ‘bold, immediate’ steps, visit the region

March 10, 2011

LOUISVILLE

Along with other national religious leaders, the stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has added his name to a March 7 letter urging President Obama to take bold steps toward achieving a just and lasting peace in Israel/Palestine.

In the letter, the Rev. Gradye Parsons, along with 19 other leaders of denominations and faith-based organizations, expresses regret about the recent U.S. veto of the United Nations resolution stating that Israeli activities in the Palestinian territories are illegal.

“While we appreciate statements affirming continuing U.S. strong opposition to the expansion of Israeli settlements, these must be followed by concrete measures to halt this activity,” the letter reads.

Distributed by the ecumenical coalition group Churches for Middle East Peace, the letter calls for “bold and immediate new steps” to “prevent this veto from further damaging America’s credibility as a broker to help resolve this conflict.”

The group pushes for Obama to build on the Arab Peace Initiative and to seek the support of Middle East Quartet, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

“With rapid change underway in the Arab world we believe that the time to act is now — before events make the task of reaching an agreement more difficult,” the letter states.

The letter also calls for Obama, along with the other Quartet leaders, to visit Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Syria to propose specific steps toward peace.

The full text of the letter, including signees:

Dear Mr. President, 

We believe the current upheaval in the Arab world both reveals God’s desire for the liberation of all people from oppression (Psalm 146.7) and presents an opportunity to support moral values in advancing human rights.

In this connection, we wish to express our regret that the United States vetoed the resolution in the United Nations Security Council February 18 reaffirming that Israeli settlements activities in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are illegal.

While we appreciate statements affirming continuing U.S. strong opposition to the expansion of Israeli settlements, these must be followed by concrete measures to halt this activity. We believe bold and immediate new steps are needed now to prevent this veto from further damaging America’s credibility as a broker to help resolve this conflict that threatens the security of both peoples and denies self-determination to Palestinians.

Negotiations to end this conflict have foundered not just because of remaining differences over the specific issues, but also because of deep fear and mistrust.  Both sides need to have confidence that any agreement for a just peace with security will be lasting and reliably executed in a reasonable timeframe.  

We call upon you therefore to open up broad new channels of diplomatic effort to encourage both sides to take responsibility now for creating the conditions necessary for talks to succeed. This initiative must necessarily include support from the Middle East Quartet, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference for a set of proposals, building on the Arab Peace Initiative. The concerns of persons displaced over the years by the conflict should be addressed.   Neighbors and powers in the region should be engaged no matter what their current relations with Israel. 

With rapid change underway in the Arab world we believe that the time to act is now -- before events make the task of reaching an agreement more difficult.  The Quartet recently expressed support for concluding an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians by this September, and you also have expressed the hope there can be an agreement by then.  

With that time frame in mind, we hope that you and the other Quartet leaders will travel to the region together soon, visiting Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring Syria, to propose specific steps to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israel and all its neighbors.

We believe an interim agreement at this time would be folly. We have seen that stagnation in this peace process can be explosive.  We appeal to you to initiate these bold actions now to help bring about resolution of all final status issues and a definitive end to this conflict. Only then can peace, healing and reconciliation of neighbors for which we all pray be achieved, so that all involved may have life more abundantly.   

Sincerely,

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian
Primate of the Armenian Church
Eastern Diocese

Rev. Geoffrey Black
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

J Ron Byler
Executive Director
Mennonite Central Committee

Very Rev. Thomas. P. Cassidy, SCJ
President
Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men’s Institutes 

Shan Cretin
General Secretary
American Friends Service Committee

Marie Dennis
Director
Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns

Rev. Jerry Dykstra
Executive Director
Christian Reformed Church in North America

Donna Graham, OSF
President
Franciscan Friars (OFM)
English Speaking Conference JPIC

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Mary Hughes, OP
President
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey
President, General Board of Church and Society
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Michael Kinnamon, Ph.D.
General Secretary
National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA

Reverend John L. McCullough
Executive Director and CEO
Church World Service

Rev. Dr. Roy Medley
General Secretary
American Baptist Churches, USA

Reverend Peter Morales
President
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

Stanley J. Noffsinger
General Secretary
Church of the Brethren

Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (USA)

Diane Randall
Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church 

Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

  1. My husband and I attended a study tour last fall to Israel/Palestine with a group of international peacemakers. We met with Palestinian individuals whose homes were destroyed by the Israeli govt. It is shameful what they are doing to Palestinian families - destroying their homes, controlling all the water, locking them up behind cement walls. These people had nothing to do with the holocaust and are innocent of any activities against the settlers. We are complicite when we continue to arm the Israeli government and fail to see the apartheid they are imposing on the Palestinians. The Palestinians have lived on that land continuously for thousands of years.

    by Marion Gotschall

    April 27, 2011

  2. It is time to go back and study the history and background of the Balfour Resolution. I believe that it set in motion the travesty of the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews.

    by Mary Klotzbach

    April 19, 2011

  3. Jesus came first for His own people.

    by John Nelson

    March 31, 2011

  4. Today's and yesterday's events highlight the differences between Israel and Hamas / Palestine. Hamas lobs mortar and rockets into Israeli civilian areas. Israel retaliates against 6 of 7 areas where the rockets were lauched from and avoids the 7th becasue they might hit civilians and then Hamas explodes a bomb by a bus in Jerusalem targeting more civilians. Somehow the PCUSA will blame Israel for this.

    by Michaael Spires

    March 23, 2011

  5. Are we (Christians / PCUSA) really 100% sure that Christ would be condemning Israel's actions in Palestine? Palestinians have more rights in Israel under Israeli government than they do in Palestine under Palestinian government.

    by Michael Spires

    March 22, 2011

  6. "resolution of all status issues" sounds too much like Hitler's "Final solution"

    by D. Gordon Jewett

    March 21, 2011

  7. Can anybody say Liberal?? It sure sounds like the PCUSA doesn't wish to stand up for the truth.

    by Caleb

    March 10, 2011

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