(March 29) - In a pre-Easter message, the heads of local Christian communities this week called for forgiveness and reconciliation on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and said that negotiations were the only way of assuring the well-being of Palestinians and Israelis alike.
Signed by the heads of 13 churches, including the Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Latin patriarchs, the Franciscan custos, and the Anglican and Lutheran bishops, the appeal appeared avoided casting blame. Instead, it called for respect for the rights of all and for mutual trust and security.
"We believe that the violence which has intensified over these past months will only end when both parties in the conflict make a determined effort to respect each other's rights whilst affirming the dignity and worth of every human life," the church leaders said.
The statement, issued ahead of Easter Sunday, which falls on April 15, also called for assistance from individuals, religious groups, and aid organizations, for those who are suffering because of the conflict.
"We would ask for even greater assistance from our brothers and sisters abroad - governments, aid agencies as well as churches and private individuals - for those in need in the areas of conflict. Despite all the kind help to date (for which we express sincere gratitude) many are desperate for food, clothing, shelter and the like," they said.
In response to the statement, Rabbi David Rosen, president of the International Council of Christians and Jews, praised the statement as balanced and sensible.
"It is an appropriate statement of the pain and difficulties that their own Christian communities are experiencing as part of Palestinian society, and at the same time it is a well-balanced plea for sense," Rosen said.
He added that it was in marked contrast to some of the individual statements by a few of the Christian leaders recently which had been lamentably far less balanced.
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