Message from the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land -- U.S. Visit, February, 2012

Peace in the Holy Land is a necessity – and possible. The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land is united in the faith and hope that our Creator who is the source of all peace, will help us find ways to a lasting and sustainable peace between our peoples. As religious leaders we are convinced that dialogue among believers, which is a contribution to political efforts to promote peace in the Holy Land, is in itself a divine service. The Council is a visible sign that religious leaders can be part of the solution to the conflict in the Holy Land, that religious differences are not inherently an obstacle to peace.

Because it includes the most distinguished religious institutions of the Holy Land - The Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Patriarchs and Bishops of the Churches of the Holy Land, and the Ministry of the Waqf of the Palestinian Authority - The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land is unique and has a vital role to play. The Council was established in 2005 and has since then provided a space where Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders of the Holy Land can meet in a sincere and honest dialogue on how they can contribute to peace. It has also met with local and international political and religious leaders. It has active programs to combat defamation and desecration of religion and holy sites, promote a culture of peace through education, and develop mutual understanding among emerging religious leaders. The Council demonstrates that differences can be addressed through dialogue rather than violent methods.

When visiting the United States, and meeting with political, religious and community leaders, The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land calls on political leaders and international mediators to seek the advice and utilize the competence of religious leaders when faced with issues where both political and religious concerns are involved.

We include the following issues among our immediate concerns:

  • Holy sites – which are numerous in the Holy Land. They need to be accessible to believers, and their integrity needs to be respected. Any act of desecration, aggression or harm against holy sites should be condemned. All believers should have safe access to the Holy Sites of their beliefs.
  • Jerusalem – a holy city to believers of all three religions whose religious narratives linked to Jerusalem. All three narratives should be respected. Conflict over Jerusalem obstructs peace in the Holy Land. All around the world the faithful of all Abrahamic religions long for peace in and around the Holy City.
  • Incitement – the Council has demonstrated its commitment to condemn incitement in any form through clear public statements, and will provide further leadership in this area. The Council’s study on the “portrayal of the other” in Palestinian and Israeli schoolbooks is meant to help relevant authorities address curricular issues that limit understanding and respect for one other. The Council also calls for reestablishment of the joint American, Israeli and Palestinian Commission on incitement which was established in 1999, but never came into function.
  • Emerging religious leaders - The Council, together with Search for Common Ground, is launching a project to prepare emerging religious leaders in order to enable them to share in our common efforts.
  • Find out more about the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land: www.crihl.org
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