by James Solheim
[ACNS source: Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold joined 32 other Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in announcing a new collaborative effort to mobilize broad public support in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.
In letters to President George W. Bush and members of the Congress, the religious leaders are calling on the administration to make peace in the Middle East a high priority, warning that "if the Road Map is allowed to fail, Israelis and Palestinians will sink even deeper into cycles of violence, jeopardizing the prospect of a two-state solution, escalating regional instability, undermining the global campaign against terrorism, and threatening vital U.S. national security interests."
The religious leaders endorsed four steps that could renew momentum on the Road Map, the Bush administration's incremental peace plan that includes establishing a Palestinian state. First step would be a call for an end to all acts of violence and a renewed effort to work for a ceasefire. Second, keeping a visibly active special presidential envoy in the region, followed by more specific steps by the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority, with a timetable and vigorous monitoring. Finally, support for benchmark ideas for possible peace agreements from earlier negotiations and initiatives such as the Geneva Accord, an official plan signed December 1 that is drawing support.
Details on the initiative are available at: www.walktheroadtopeace.org
James Solheim is director of Episcopal News Service