Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold has signed a letter to President George W. Bush, issued by Churches for Middle East Peace, calling for a diplomatic solution to the conflicts in Gaza and between Hezbollah and Israel.
The full text of of the statement follows:
July 20, 2006
The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
Dear President Bush,
Mr. President, while attention is rightly focused on the Hezbollah-Israel conflict, we write with growing concern for the situation in Gaza and appeal to you to do everything possible to calm the crisis and restore hope for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. We condemn the capture by Palestinian militants of Cpl. Gilad Shalit and pray that he will be released by Hamas without further delay and returned safely to his family.
The escalating violence and regional dimension of the conflict is alarming. It is urgent that you call on all the parties to restrain from using force and, rather, to trust a diplomatic process.
We urge the sustained intervention of the United States at the highest level with both Israeli and Palestinian officials and with the cooperation of Egypt and the Quartet. We ask you to work closely with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz toward a diplomatic solution which will not further impoverish and burden ordinary Palestinians. Our churches and institutions in Gaza struggle in despair to try to meet the needs of the people – both Muslim and Christian. We endorse the call by the church-related humanitarian and development aid agencies for the urgent protection of Gaza's civilians, as specified by the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as immediate and unobstructed access for the delivery of critical humanitarian aid and supplies necessary for basic human needs.
As religious leaders in the United States, we are deeply moved by the July 7 statement by the Bishops and Patriarchs of Jerusalem. They condemn the abduction of the Israeli soldier and the killing of the young settler by Palestinians, but consider Israel's response – the destruction of bridges and a power station, the deprivation and deaths of civilians and arrests of Palestinian officials – as without proportion. "Things have gone too far. We call on the International community to intervene and insist on a diplomatic solution to this conflict. All Authorities must change course, and with unflinching International pressure and presence, they have to negotiate in order to reach the just and definitive peace."
We share and support your vision of a two-state solution. If the Hezbollah-Israel crisis, which threatens to expand into a regional war, continues it could end all hope for a solution that brings peace and security to Israel and the future state of Palestine and their suffering peoples.
We hold you in our prayers as you seek a way toward peace in these challenging times.
Dr. Robb Davis
Mennonite Central Committee
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Rev. Robert Edgar
National Council of Churches USA
Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
Reformed Church in America
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
The Episcopal Church in America
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey
Alliance of Baptists
Bishop Janice Riggle Huie
United Methodist Council of Bishops
Very Rev. Dominic Izzo, OP
Roman Catholic Conference of Major
Superiors of Men's Institutes
Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church, (USA)
Rev. John L. McCullough
Executive Director & CEO
Church World Service
Mary Ellen McNish
American Friends Service Committee
Stanley J. Noffsinger
Church of the Brethren
Bro. Mark Schroeder, OFM
President, Franciscan Friars (OFM)
English Speaking Conference, JPIC Council
Rev. William G. Sinkford
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Rev. Sharon E. Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)