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December 17, 2002

American Jewish, Christian and Muslim Leaders Unite
in Urging More Active, Determined U.S. and International Efforts
to Stop Israeli-Palestinian Violence and Restart Negotiations as
Essential Now for Peace and for the Campaign Against Terrorism

The U.S. Interreligious Committee, representing prominent mainstream American Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders, calls for greatly accelerated U.S. and international efforts to stop Israeli-Palestinian violence and restart negotiations for peace. The Committee warned that the current, relatively passive U.S. policy is compounding the suffering and loss of hope among Palestinians and Israelis, jeopardizing the possibility of a two-state solution, and undermining efforts against terrorism.

More than 2,500 Palestinians and Israelis, including hundreds of children, have been killed in the last two years. (Relative to population, this would be equivalent to 60,000 Americans killed -- more than in the Vietnam War.) Palestinian economy and society in the West Bank and Gaza have been devastated. The Israeli economy is hurting badly. There is growing concern that the continuing conflict may make a viable two-state solution impossible, thereby confronting Israelis and Palestinians with even more difficult and dangerous choices for the future. Moreover, lack of progress toward peace is fueling extremism, jeopardizing regional cooperation to disarm Iraq, and undermining the worldwide campaign against terrorism.

The Committee believes that Israeli and Palestinian elections make it all the more important that the United States, in cooperation with the EEU, Russia and the United Nations (the Quartet) press ahead immediately and publicly with a "Roadmap for Peace" as the only realistic alternative to ongoing conflict. Clearly, as a matter of democratic principle, Israelis and Palestinians must be free to choose their own leaders. Yet, by presenting a clear vision of a two-state solution based on U.N. Resolution 242, as well as a process of reciprocal, simultaneous steps to be taken by each side, the Quartet can help people on both sides take a harder, more realistic view of their options for the future.

The U.S. Interreligious Committee believes peace is possible. From September 1997 to September 2000, as a result of U.S. supported Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, the number of persons killed was dramatically reduced. The Taba talks in 2000-2001, based on U.S. bridging-ideas, provide an outline for Israeli-Palestinian peace, including a shared Jerusalem. U.S. mediated talks at the Wye Plantation in 1995-96 came close to agreement on principles for peace between Israel and Syria. The need for a concerted U.S.-led international push for peace in the Middle East has never been more clear or urgent. By giving priority to pursuing peace, the Committee believes the Bush Administration could count on support from majorities of Americans, Israelis and Palestinians.

U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace
in the Middle East
16020 94th Avenue, NW
Stanwood, WA 98292
Tel/Fax: (360) 652-4285

Executive Director
Ronald J. Young

National Co-Chairpersons
Dawud A. Assad
Former President
Council of Mosques

The Reverend Joan B. Campbell
Former General Secretary
National Council of Churches, USA

Rabbi Paul J. Menitoff
Executive Vice President
Central Conference of American Rabbis

Honorary Vice Chairpersons
Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg
Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, CSC
Warithuddin Mohammed

*Organizations for identification only

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