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Jewish groups, clerics back Obama peace efforts

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A number of Jewish groups and rabbis joined an open letter backing President Obama’s intensive efforts toward a broader Middle East peace.

Leaders of J Street, Americans for Peace Now and the Reconstructionist movement as well to former presidents of the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis signed the letter published Tuesday, saying that "we believe bold American leadership can help Israelis and Palestinians make the difficult decisions necessary to achieve lasting peace and hold the parties to account should they fail to honor their commitments."

Other signatories include leaders of the Arab American Institute, Churches for Middle East Peace and the American Task Force for Palestine.

A solution should encompass "critical issues of importance to the parties including refugees, borders, Jerusalem, settlements, and security," the letter said.

It also backed a comprehensive peace based on the "the Arab Peace Initiative, with its offer of recognition and normalization of relations between Israel and all Arab nations in exchange for resolution of all outstanding issues."

Israel’s government is currently resisting U.S. efforts to broaden negotiations with the Palestinians to issues such as refugees and Jerusalem. Israel also says it regards as positive the Saudi-led Arab peace initiative, but wants its details on borders and the status of refugees made clearer before it becomes the basis of peace talks.

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