From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ENS - Presiding Bishop's letter to Bush on Middle East crisis
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Thu, 22 Apr 2004 15:08:55 -0700
Tuesday, April 22, 2004
Presiding Bishop's letter to Bush on Middle East crisis
April 21, 2004
The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The Episcopal Church has a long record of support for a just peace that
guarantees Israel's security and Palestinian aspirations for a viable
sovereign state with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both Israel and
Palestine. We have been strong advocates of your "Road Map" for peace and
been disappointed that more efforts were not made to support that important
initiative. We fervently agree with your commitment to Israel's security
in a Jewish state, "including secure, defensible borders" and your
description of a future Palestinian state that is "viable, contiguous,
sovereign, and independent."
However, it is with grave concern that I have read your letter of April 14
to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. While there are important points on which
the Episcopal Church would agree with this letter, we are deeply distressed
by a number of other points, most significantly the unilateral nature of
I firmly believe that there will be no just or lasting peace for either
Palestine or Israel without the engagement of both parties in that process.
Your endorsement of Prime Minister Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan
and support for his positions on the vital issues of borders, settlements
and refugees outside of the context of negotiations is a serious departure
from America's traditional view that a resolution of these issues must be
negotiated. I fear that your commitment threatens the renewal of
negotiations in which Israelis and Palestinians can accommodate each
others' vital interests without coercion or imposition. Turning away from
meaningful negotiations will undermine hope, discourage moderate
Palestinian voices, and threaten further violence. A retreat from strong,
even handed American diplomacy in this conflict also jeopardizes America's
struggle against terrorism.
I believe the security barrier under construction, in part on occupied
territory, will not provide the security Israel needs and is an impediment
to a comprehensive negotiated settlement. It is impossible for those who
have not seen the barrier to fully comprehend its disruptive effect on the
institutions and daily lives of Palestinians of all ages. It is separating
families from one another, students from their schools, workers from their
jobs, farmers from their land. Its current route threatens to preempt
negotiation on borders and settlements. I therefore appreciate your stating
that this barrier "should be temporary rather than permanent."
I condemn the ongoing cycle of violence and terrorism. This weekend's
assassination will, I fear, only lead to more attacks of the very nature it
is said to be meant to deter. I know there can be no end to the cycle if
the root causes are not dealt with fairly. I pray for the day when
Palestinians and Israelis alike can go about their daily lives without fear
of attack and can live freely and safely within secure, recognized borders.
Achieving this goal demands full engagement of both Israelis and
Palestinians. It also requires strong and just American support. I urge
that you oppose further unilateral or imposed efforts, and that you
dedicate our government to an early return to Israeli-Palestinian
negotiations as the only way toward a lasting resolution of this tragic
Please be assured, Mr. President, of my prayers for you in these complex
and difficult times.
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA
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