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As talks in Amman, Jordan continue, Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East urges Israel and the Palestinian Authority to summon historic political courage and take the steps that are necessary to return to direct peace talks and the successful negotiation of a final status peace agreement. On the Israeli side, this would include freezing settlement construction on the West Bank.
“The status quo is not neutral,” according to Rev. Dr. Peter A. Pettit, of Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA and Fair Witness Executive Committee member. “It eats away at the dignity and hope that must ground a peace agreement. Therefore, we strongly urge Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to refrain from continued settlement building.
We also strongly urge Palestinian President Abbas to engage in direct peace talks without pre-conditions, as the Quartet has proposed, and Israel has agreed. That is the only way to reach a final status agreement and peace.”
“Both Palestinians and Israelis continue to suffer while their respective leadership appears locked in a ‘lose-lose’ pattern of obstinacy,” lamented Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College and Fair Witness Executive Committee member. Rev. Chilton added that “continued Israeli settlement building creates facts on the ground while peace talks are delayed.
However, the Palestinian refusal to engage in direct negotiations without a settlement freeze is equally unhelpful. The way to stop settlement building is to create a mutually agreed upon border. And that cannot happen until the parties sit down and negotiate.”
“As the New Year begins, we bring the message of peace and goodwill to all people,” says Rev. Pettit. “We pray especially that peace will finally come to the people of Palestine and Israel.”