Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) welcomes the letter to President Bush sent today by Sens. Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO) and John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-WV) commending his efforts to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and bringing to his attention, ahead of the Christmas holiday, the rapid decline of the Palestinian Christian community.
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) welcomes the letter to President Bush sent today by Sens. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO) and John "Jay" Rockefeller (D-WV) commending his efforts to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and bringing to his attention, ahead of the Christmas holiday, the rapid decline of the Palestinian Christian community. The CMEP coalition, comprised of 22 Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant national church bodies, shares the Senators’ concerns regarding the increasing emigration of Palestinian Christians and agrees that the achievement of a peaceful, two-state solution would greatly benefit the long-term viability of this historic community, and indeed all the peoples of the Holy Land.
The Bond-Rockefeller letter describes the difficulties faced by the dwindling Palestinian Christian community “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.” Senator Rockefeller, chair of the Select Intelligence Committee and ranking member, Sen. Bond, highlight the important role that Palestinian Christians play in any future democratic and pluralistic Palestinian state and cite the decline of indigenous Christian communities throughout the Middle East as having “serious implications for U.S. national security interests and the stability of the region”. Their letter also points out the impact that the decline of the Christian community has in Jerusalem, saying that if the trend does not change, the city “with its universal and sacred importance, will cease to be the home of three living faith communities.” The Senators conclude by encouraging the President’s continued peacemaking efforts, which can help transform the Holy Land “from the tragic symbol of strife and discord that it has become, into the powerful beacon of hope and tolerance that it can and should be.”
Commenting on the letter, Corinne Whitlatch, CMEP’s Executive Director said, “We commend Sens. Bond and Rockefeller for bringing attention to the plight of the Christians in the Holy Land and the urgent need for peace at this time when Christians everywhere are preparing for Christmas and are reminded of the place of Christ’s birth. The American churches have long been concerned about the situation of Palestinian Christians, who are increasingly emigrating due to political and economic instability. The loss of this historic community would not only be a tragedy for world Christianity, but as the Senators say, would have serious ramifications for a future Palestinian state, the interreligious nature of Jerusalem, and regional peace and security.”
Whitlatch added, “ We join with the Senators in urging the President’s continued efforts, with the support of the Congress, to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. A two-state solution where a viable Palestinian state lives alongside a secure Israel is the best hope for preserving the Palestinian Christian community and for ensuring a positive future for Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.”