PB, religious leaders press Rice on Middle East peace efforts

By Maureen Shea

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joined five Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders from the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI) in a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice January 29 to discuss the Israeli/Palestinian situation. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom John Hanford IV also participated in the meeting.

“The timing was particularly important in light of Secretary Rice’s meeting February 2 with the ‘Quartet’ — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — that is to be followed by talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders,” Jefferts Schori said. “Despite a very difficult year for Palestinians and Israelis, it is significant that 35 U.S. religious leaders, affiliated with more than two dozen Jewish, Christian and Muslim national organizations, are calling for the United States to make peace in the Middle East an urgent priority and to provide creative, determined leadership for building that peace.”

Jefferts Schori was referring to the 35 religious leaders who wrote to Rice December 12 asking for a meeting with her to discuss the “urgent situation in the Middle East” and calling on the United States to make peace in the region an “urgent priority.”

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