Interfaith Peace Plan Touted; Palestinian, Israeli Groups Eye Religious Angle

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 8, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Interfaith Peace Plan Touted; Palestinian, Israeli Groups Eye Religious Angle


Byline: Cajsa Collin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The most senior religious leaders from Israel and the Palestinian territories announced details yesterday of a Middle East peace initiative that emphasizes the importance of religion in resolving the conflict.

At an unprecedented press conference in Washington, members of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land announced six concrete steps they plan to take, including establishment of a hot line to connect its members and efforts to foster mutual respect between religions.

Jewish participants included Rabbi Shlomo Amar, chief Sephardic rabbi of Israel; Rabbi Yonah Metzger, chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel; Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen, chief rabbi of Haifa; Rabbi David Rosen; and Oded Wiener, director general of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Christian participants included Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox patriarchate; Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Latin patriarchate; Bishop Suheil Dawani, the Anglican Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East; and Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Holy Land and Jordan.

Muslim participants included Sheik Taysir al-Tamimi, supreme judge of the Palestinian Shariah Courts; Sheik Jamal Bawatnah, minister of Awqaf; Salah A. Zuheika, deputy minister of Waqf and religious affairs for the Palestinian Authority; Sheik Hatem Hilmi Bakri; and Sheik Abdel Salam Mraish.

Mr. Rosen, speaking on behalf of the Jewish members, said it was "pathetic" that it had taken so long to produce the initiative but "amazing" that it is finally taking place.

"We are not here to be politicians; we are not here to make political decisions. We are here to say no political solution can work without the religious dimension. To ignore it is to guarantee it will fail," he said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development funded the initiative, which is meant to further cooperation at the grass-roots level.

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