U.S. Interreligious Committee Welcomes New Zinni Mission for a Ceasefire and Negotiations; Urges Bush Administration to Make Peace Its Highest Priority in the Middle East
March 18, 2002
The U.S. Interreligious Committee, representing 2,500 Jews, Christians and Muslims, including national leaders of all three communities, welcomes General Zinni’s new mission and his pledge to stay until he succeeds in getting the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to agree to a ceasefire, linked to restarting negotiations, along lines of the Tenet Plan and Mitchell Recommendations.
Israel’s decision, under pressure from the Bush Administration, to withdraw from areas of the West Bank and Gaza it recently reoccupied provides essential relief to the Palestinian civilian population and a basis for further U.S. pressure on the Palestinian Authority to prevent terrorist attacks. While reports of progress toward a ceasefire are encouraging, as Ze’ev Schiff, Defense Correspondent for Ha’aretz, argues, given complex and volatile relations on the ground, international monitors are needed to "ensure a move to the Tenet-Mitchell track and diplomatic negotiations."
According to Ronald Young, the Committee’s Director, "a convergence of factors, including awareness by many leaders and ordinary people on both sides that violence has not gotten them any closer to their goals (for Israelis - security, and for Palestinians - a viable independent state), growing regional and international alarm over the escalating crisis, the peace initiative by Saudi Arabia, and especially active U.S. reengagement, create a context currently which significantly increases chances of breaking the cycle of violence and restarting negotiations."
"For the sake of Israelis and Palestinians, for the sake of regional stability and prospects for democratization, for maintaining essential global support in the war against terrorism, and for future prospects of world peace, the Committee believes achieving peace between Israel, the Palestinian people and the Arab states, based on U.N. Resolution 242, should now be the highest priority for U.S. Middle East policy."
Honorary Vice Chairpersons