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Two U.S. senators cited the Holy Land’s dwindling Palestinian Christian community in a letter to President Bush.

The purpose of the letter, sent Friday but dated Dec. 25 for Christmas, was to laud the president’s renewed peace efforts. “We commend your efforts to reinvigorate the peace process with last month’s international meeting in Annapolis, and your vision of ‘two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security,’” stated the letter by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.), referring to last month’s U.S.-convened peace talks in the Maryland capital. “As you work to achieve this vision, and as Christmas approaches, we wish to draw your attention to the decline of the Holy Land’s Christian community.” The letter alluded both to reported threats against Palestinian Christians made by radical Islamists, as well as restrictions on movement imposed by Israeli security measures. “Caught in a storm of violent conflict, religious extremism and economic deterioration, often unable to access their holy sites, and lacking reliable law and order, many Christians are emigrating,” read the letter. “Progress toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would greatly improve the lives of the Palestinian Christians, who will play a critical role in any future democratic and pluralistic Palestinian state.” The letter was praised by Churches for Middle East Peace, a coalition of mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and other churches.

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