Religious Leaders Join in Support of Mideast Peace

By Nathan Guttman

Published November 07, 2007, issue of November 09, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Washington - The highest ranking Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders from the Holy Land made a groundbreaking statement of support this week for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The Muslim sheiks in charge of Jerusalem’s holy places met with Israel’s chief rabbis and with the leaders of the major Christian denominations to present a paper that not only recognized the need to end Israeli occupation but also committed all religious leaders to work together for peace in the region.

The communiqué, presented Wednesday in a joint press conference in Washington, said that “Palestinians yearn for the end to occupation and what they see as their inalienable rights. Israelis long for the day when they can live in personal and national security. Together we must find ways of reaching these goals.”

The summit appears to represent the first time that Israel’s chief rabbis have spoken of ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

The Jewish contingent was composed of Israel’s two chief rabbis, the director general of the chief rabbinate, the chief rabbi of Haifa and a top rabbi at the American Jewish Congress.

On the Muslim side, the meeting represented the first time that top Muslim clerics have agreed to work with Israelis on the peace process. Muslim participants included Sheikh Hamed Tamimi, who is head of the Sharia courts and is a former al-Aqsa Mosque preacher who had a reputation as a Palestinian hard-liner.

The Christian contingent included the Greek Orthodox and Latin Patriarchs, as well as the local head of the Anglican Church.

While avoiding discussing core issues such as the future of Jerusalem, the religious leaders did agree on the need to ensure open access to the Old City for all communities. There was also an agreement on establishing a hotline among members of the group in order to resolve problems regarding the holy sites before they get out of hand.

The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land began meeting two years ago in talks sponsored by the Norwegian government. The council’s summit in Washington this week was hosted by the State Department. While not formally part of the peace negotiations, members of the group expressed their wish to be heard as all sides embark on peace talks later this month.

Possible involvement of the religious leaders in the upcoming Annapolis, Md., summit was also discussed in a meeting the group held Tuesday with members of the Jewish community.

“They would like us to make the parties in Annapolis aware of their support for the peace efforts,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, who chaired the meeting.

Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.