.- Leaders from various faiths, including three U.S. bishops, sent a letter of support to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for his promise to prioritize Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
"We support the President’s commitment to make Israeli-Palestinian peace a high priority of U.S. policy," said the July 26 letter.
“Recognizing, as you do, that the passage of time makes achieving a viable two-state solution increasingly difficult, we have voiced strong support for your determined initiative for peace.”
The signatories, who included Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders, welcomed a July 19 statement by Kerry announcing that Palestinian and Israeli representatives have reached an agreement “that establishes the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”
Catholic representatives signing the letter were Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington; Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines; and Bishop Denis J. Madden, an auxiliary bishop of Baltimore.
Cardinal McCarrick helped found an interreligious initiative for Mid-East peace, Bishop Pates is chair of the U.S. bishops' international justice and peace committee, and Bishop Madden is chair of the interreligious affairs committee.
The letter also noted the leaders' appreciation for “intermittent progress toward resolving final status issues in both unofficial talks and formal negotiations” between Israeli and Palestinian parties over the years.
They noted that “while these talks and negotiations have yet to yield a blueprint for peace, they have identified ideas for addressing key issues that must be resolved in a manner acceptable to both sides.”
The signers pledged to Kerry that they would "offer our prayers for your efforts," and support for “bold American leadership for peace” in the Mid-East.
“We know the path to peace is complex and challenging, but peace is possible.”
Peace talks between Palestine and Israel were put on hold in 2010 over the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law.