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Churches group presses Obama on peace

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A national coalition of mainstream churches advocating for U.S. engagement in Israeli-Palestinian talks garnered 17,000 signatures on a letter to President Obama.

"As Christians of the Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant traditions, we are united by a Biblical call to be peacemakers and a commitment to the two peoples of the Holy Land who yearn for a just peace," reads the letter organized by Churches for Middle East Peace and handed last week to Daniel Shapiro, who supervises Israel issues at Obama’s National Security Council. "As Americans, we urge you, Mr. President, to make achievement of Israeli-Palestinian peace an immediate priority during your first year in office."

The letter says Obama "must provide sustained, high-level diplomatic leadership toward the clear goal of a final status agreement. Building on past discussions, we ask you to encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make historic compromises necessary for peace."

The top 41 signatories are leaders of the eastern Orthodox, mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic groups that make up the coalition.

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