Presiding Bishop calls for intervention by United Nations in Middle East
The current round of violence in Israel and the occupied territories has brought the crisis to its lowest and most dangerous ebb in many years. Neither the present unconscionable round of suicide bombings, born of years of occupation, nor the wholly disproportionate military response of Israel is leading to any peaceful solution. My heart goes out to all those families, both Israeli and Palestinian, who have lost loved ones in this latest round of violence. They have my deepest condolences.
This tragic situation demands the immediate intervention of the international community. I implore the United Nations, supported fully by the United States, to send a peacekeeping force into occupied Palestinian areas for the purpose of ensuring an immediate ceasefire. The United States must impress upon both sides the absolute necessity of this action.
Clearly, the two parties in this tragic conflict no longer have the means or the will to control events. Therefore, it is imperative that the international community intervene to restore order and stability based on UN Security Council resolution 1402 which calls for a ceasefire based on the Tenet plan and for peace negotiations based on the Mitchell Report. I call on President Bush to send Secretary of State Colin Powell to the area as a sign of U.S. resolve to end the violence and to broker a just and lasting peace.
Even in the midst of the turmoil there have been hopeful signs. The Arab League’s willingness to engage the peace process with an offer of normal relations in exchange for a Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders is precedent setting, even breathtaking, and the moment must not be lost. Extremist actions from either side cannot be allowed to circumvent genuine peace efforts being put forward.
On Easter Day I talked with Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, Episcopal Bishop in Jerusalem, who deplores the violence on all fronts, and heard of his and other Christian leaders' unending efforts to bring both sides together. I assured him of the prayers and active support of the Episcopal Church, USA, on his behalf and that of the people of the Diocese of Jerusalem. I pray with particular concern for Prime Minister Sharon and President Arafat, and indeed all those who call the Holy Land home. The promise that Christ’s Resurrection has the power to overcome death and all walls of division is the ground of our hope in this very dark hour.
Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA
April 1, 2002