Magazine article The Christian Century

Guarded Responses to Middle East Accord

Magazine article The Christian Century

Guarded Responses to Middle East Accord

Article excerpt

Religious groups across the nation joined in celebrating the September 13 signing of the Israeli-Palestinian accord but cautioned that many obstacles remain to be dealt with before a comprehensive peace for the region can be reached. "Today's declaration should be a source of hope for Israelis living in fear of their neighbors and for Palestinians living under an oppressive occupation," said Churches tor Middle East Peace, a group jointly sponsored by the Washington offices of Protestant and Roman Catholic agencies. It called the declaration of principles, signed at the White House, "an important symbol and historic first step toward a just and durable peace between Israel and the Palestinian people."

That view was echoed by the World Methodist Council. The organization's general secretary, Joe Hale, called the agreement a "heroic step" and said that behind it is "the realization that living peacefully together with each other is a better option than continuing the hatred and hostility." A joint statement by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ affirmed the accord and congratulated the Israeli and Palestinian leaders who negotiated the agreement for having "led their people to take risks for peace."

"We realize that the agreement of mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and arduous journey," said Disciples General Minister and President Richard Hamm and UCC President Paul Sherry. "But that first step, a recognition of each other's rights and each other's reality, is such an important one. Once taken, we pray, it will not be reversed, and a word of new possibilities will now be open to both peoples and to their neighbors."

All those commenting on the apparent historic breakthrough have noted not only their welcoming of the agreement but also their caution about the many obstacles still ahead in the negotiations and the need for continued strong U.S. involvement in the peace process. "It is a moment of freedom for the Palestinians, yes," said the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East. "And it is a moment of freedom for lsraelis as well. …

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