Calling on President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell to insist that both Israel and the Palestinians exercise military restraint and pursue resumption of negotiations, General Secretary Robert W. Edgar of the National Council of Churches has issued an urgent appeal for the vigorous pursuit of peace in the Middle East.
'On Saturday evening and Sunday, as bombs exploded in Jerusalem and Haifa, Advent began. Christians here in the U.S., with a new awareness that their Muslim neighbors were engaged in fasting and spiritual discipline to mark the holy month of Ramadan, prepared to receive the Prince of Peace into our hearts. But in Palestine and Israel there is no peace.
'We condemn the suicide bombings and express our horror and rage at such senseless and inexcusable acts of violence. We mourn with the Israeli families and individuals who have lost loved ones, and pray for the healing of all who were injured. And we mourn as well for the Palestinians killed, and pray for the injured ones today in Gaza.
'The circle of violence must end. We repeat the call made last May by the Council of United Methodist Bishops to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to bring end to all hostilities. Amidst our own revulsion at terrorist acts of this kind, and against the urge to respond in violence, we lift our voices in a call for restraint by both sides, and for an even more vigorous pursuit of peace.
'We call on Prime Minister Sharon and President Arafat, and on other Israeli and Palestinian leaders and people, to turn away from acts of retaliation and further bloodshed. Neither terrorism nor military force can bring lasting peace or security for Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region.
'To counter further violence, we ask the United States government to join with other nations to send an international monitoring force to the region. We urge President Bush and Secretary of State Powell to insist that both sides exercise restraint, and to encourage and support an immediate resumption of negotiations to resolve the causes of the conflict, and to construct a just and enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace.'