Council meets with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Representatives of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land were invited to Washington DC where they met with the US Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, the US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator John Kerry and other political and civic figures as well as religious leaders from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities. They also met with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), American-Palestinian Task Force, and participated in panel discussions at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington Institute for Near East policy and Georgetown University.
The Council delegation comprised the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Rabbi Daniel Sperber, and the Director General of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, Oded Wiener; Dr. Mahmoud Habbash, the Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs at the PA, and the Director of the Ministry, Mr. Salah Zueikah; His Beatitude Fouad Twal the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and Munib Younan the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land.
The representatives of the Council came with the message that peace in the Holy Land is both possible and a necessity . They called on the U.S administration to engage and utilize the competence of religious leaders when faced with issues where both political and religious concerns are involved.
The Council has demonstrated its concern about the respect for the current status quo of holy sites and the protection of these against any kind of assault and desecration.
The delegation affirmed that Jerusalem is a holy city to believers of all three religions whose religious narratives are inextricably linked to Jerusalem. The representatives affirmed the desire of the members of the Council to be of assistance to political negotiators on this subject so that the interests of the different communities linked to Jerusalem do not obstruct peace in the Holy Land.
The delegation informed their interlocutors of the Council’s consistent condemnation of incitement, especially when religion or religious texts are abused ; and that the Council is providing leadership in countering incitement through a research study under its auspices on the “portrayal of the other” in Palestinian and Israeli schoolbooks. The members of the Council urged that the joint American, Israeli and Palestinian Commission on incitement which was originally established in 1999 but has been inactive, be reactivated and cooperate with the Council in its work.
Finally, the delegation updated the US leaders on the Council’s initiative to equip emerging religious leaders for their future leadership role.
The delegation left Washington with a sense that the importance of the Council and its message were well appreciated by the Administration and the political, civic and religious leaders that they had met.