Christian Leaders Discuss Middle East Road Map to Peace with Palestine Authority

International and local Christian leaders met with Palestine president elect Mahmoud Abbas to speak of a possible recommitment to the US-backed Middle East “road map” to peace, Thursday, January 13, 2005.

“We emphasized before you that we are committing to the road map,” Abbas said after a meeting with the visiting Christian clergy in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

“As you know, this plan starts with security commitments and eventually deals with the final status issues, like borders and Jerusalem. We are ready to implement our commitments. We hope the Israeli side will do the same,” he added.

The road map to peace calls for the Palestinians to declare and “unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest… individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.”

Middle East peace has long been a concern of evangelical Christians, mostly because of the Biblical references to Israel as the blessed and chosen state of God.

“[Evangelicals] may not be united on all issues concerning Israel; they do, however strongly ascribe to the scriptural admonition of ‘I will bless them that bless thee [Israel], and curse him that curses thee,” wrote Mike Evans, a Dallas-based evangelist who leads a pro-Israel, Internet-based Jewish Prayer Team, following the death of the late Palestinian authority Yasser Arafat.

While their views on Arafat greatly varied, both liberal and conservative Christian leaders expressed hopes that Abbas’ leadership may open up a new door to attaining peace in the Holy Land.

"We pray that Israelis and Palestinians will work together for peace. We call on the Palestinian leadership and the Government of Israel to grasp the opportunity for change and for a return to dialogue," commented Bishop Mark S. Hanson, head of the Lutheran World Federation, and the LWF General Secretary Ishmael Noko, following the news of Arafat’s death.

"We pray that God will loosen hatred’s grip on human hearts, and that God’s peace will descend on the land of Christ’s birth,” they continued.

The road map to peace, promoted by the US, EU, Russia, UN and numerous Christian leaders, envisions an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. The road map requires Israel to freeze settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza, while Palestinians are required to dismantle its militant groups.