Advocacy

Church Conference Pushes for Middle East Peace

I’m attending the annual Churches for Middle East Peace (www.cmep.org) (CMEP) conference in Washington and the timing could not have been better. CMEP is an ecumenical coalition of churches and faith-based organizations with which Catholic Relief Services, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and other Catholic organizations collaborate.

After President Obama’s Cairo speech last week, the couple of hundred folks here who are pushing for US support towards a two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict are more hopeful than they have been in a decade.  Speakers at the conference talked about an 18-24 month window to agree on and lock in a peaceful, negotiated solution.  From Israeli, Palestinian, and US perspectives, they argued for a strong U.S. role in holding Israelis and Palestinians accountable to their commitments and for moving forward.

Having traveled to Israel and Palestine four times with CRS myself, I agree now is the time to push to end the conflict – on behalf of those on both sides who strive for peace and who just want normal lives for their families.  Tomorrow, we take this message to Capitol Hill.  It will be interesting to see whether members and staff in Congress feel the same combination of urgency and hope, based in part on the recent words of President Obama.

– Bill O’Keefe

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