Religious leaders urge Colin Powell to revive Middle East peace plan
Religious leaders urge Powell to revive Middle East peace plan
June 2, 2004
By Shanta Bryant Gyan*
WASHINGTON (UMNS) — A delegation of religious leaders met with Secretary
of State Colin Powell on June 1 to press the United States to
immediately restart Israeli and Palestinian negotiations.
group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders also urged the
appointment of a high-level envoy to broker peace in the region.
Winkler, top staff executive of the United Methodist Board of Church
and Society, said the delegation told Secretary Powell that the United
States must take an even-handed approach to resolving the conflict.
United States has to take the leadership and be re-engaged at a high
level in the Middle East,” Winkler said. “And there needs to be major
action now.” The Board of Church and Society, based in Washington, is
the social action and advocacy agency of the United Methodist Church.
State Department meeting drew more than 30 religious leaders, all
members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace
in the Middle East.
a press briefing afterward, religious leaders said the United States
should revive the “road map for peace,” the U.S.-initiated blueprint for
ending the Middle East conflict, and make peace and security in the
region a priority.
Photo courtesy of NCCCUSA
30 religious leaders encouraged Secretary of State Colin Powell to revive the U.S. "road map for peace."
Photo courtesy of NCCCUSA. WASHINGTON
(UMNS) - A meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell drew more than
30 religious leaders, all members of the National Interreligious
Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East. At a press briefing
afterward, religious leaders said the United States should revive the
�road map for peace,� the U.S.-initiated blueprint for ending the Middle
East conflict, and make peace and security in the region a priority.
is our hope that they will take the road map, bring it back up again,
and take it out to the people,” said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a
Roman Catholic leader in Washington. “We believe the moment is now. We
can’t wait for more violence.”
delegation asked Powell to send a presidential envoy to the Middle East
to be a catalyst to move peace negotiations forward.
A. Assad, former president of the Council of Mosques USA, said the
United States must take a more proactive role in creating opportunities
for peace in the Middle East. He said an envoy would show the Arab and
Muslim world that “the United States is not sitting on the sidelines but
is very concerned about this issue.”
a later press briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said
that while the secretary is not opposed to appointing high-level
envoys, a presidential envoy is not necessary until the Palestinian
Authority brings the violence under control.
“reiterated the need for control of the violence and for the
Palestinians to take responsibility to control the violence because that
is the thing that has led to the problems and the breakdown of previous
efforts by envoys,” Boucher said.
Religious leaders strongly disagreed.
emphasized that the road map requires simultaneous action by both
Palestinians and Israelis. “Any hope for the Middle East to move ahead
will involve all parties,” he said.
believe positive action now will contribute to an environment where
there will be a negotiated settlement that will ultimately bring an end
to the violence,” said Bishop Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Paul Menitoff, executive vice-president of the Central Conference of
American Rabbis, called for a two-state solution — for the Palestinian
territories to form a separate entity from Israel — to resolve the
conflict, saying the “moral demand for action is now.”
The delegation also recommended increased humanitarian assistance to Palestinians living in impoverished areas.
said the Board of Church and Society would activate United Methodist
grass-roots networks through the board’s Peace with Justice Network and
Churches for Middle East Peace, of which the board is a member, to
continue advocacy with the U.S. government on the Middle East conflict.
*Gyan is a freelance writer based in the Washington area.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.