Mainline churches urge Obama to apply himself to Middle East peace

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A slate of leaders of mainline Christian churches urged President Obama to make Israeli-Palestinian peace a priority in his second term.

"As you embark upon your second term, there is an unprecedented opportunity for your administration to play a catalytic role in the resolution of this conflict," said the letter sent last week to Obama and signed by 36 top officials from Protestant and eastern Orthodox churches.

"As faith leaders deeply committed to peace and reconciliation in this land held sacred by so many, we write to ask that you now bring the full energies of your Administration to bear toward facilitating a just, durable, and final negotiated agreement to end the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict," it said.

The letter backs a two-state solution.

"Proposals put forward must be feasible and convincingly address their separate national aspirations for security and justice," according to the letter.

It also implies that the Oslo process, which was launched in 1993 toward a two-state solution, has failed.

"The losses Palestinians have experienced since the Oslo Accords were signed nearly twenty years ago have deeply marred trust and made many despair for the possibility of negotiations ever producing an acceptable outcome," the letter reads. "Israelis fear that that the losses they may face in negotiations could undermine the existence and security of their state in future generations."

Among the officials signing the letter, organized by Churches for Middle East Peace, are leaders of the Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist and United Church of Christ churches.

Churches for Middle East Peace separately asked laypeople to sign the letter online.

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