Lutheran leader says resolve for Holy Land peace undiminished

(Photo: ELCA)The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop and Lutheran World Federation president, responds to questions from a reporter with Jordanian Television following a news conference Aug. 27, 2010 in Amman, Jordan.

U.S. religious leaders' resolve for peace in the Holy Land and a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians is undiminished despite "perpetuate" "violence and occupation" or those who say it's too late, a top U.S. Lutheran bishop says.

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said Wednesday that statement released last week by Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders is "a clear sign that our resolve to work together for peace in the Holy Land will not be diminished by those whose actions perpetuate the cycle of violence and occupation or by those who say it is too late to find a two-state solution."

The National Interreligious Leadership Initiative called on U.S. President Obama's administration to set an immediate priority for launching a "bold new initiative" for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.

The group warned that "twilight has fallen" on the possibility of a two-state solution and it was up to the United States to lead the way out before "darkness falls" on hopes for a resolution.

Talks between both sides stopped in 2010 over a dispute over Israel's decision to continue building settlements in the West Bank.

The Rev. Hanson also raised questions from a recent phone conversation with the Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

"'Will the voices of religious extremists be the only ones heard in the world?" the Rev. Younan asked, according to the Rev. Hanson. "Is the United States going to exercise bold leadership so that the possibility of a two-state solution will finally become a reality? We must not give up hope.'"

The Rev. Hanson urged "unceasing" prayers and commitment for a two-state solution.

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