WASHINGTON--The United States should seek an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, provide humanitarian relief to the vulnerable people of Gaza, and return to the challenge of pursuing a just and lasting peace, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. The July 21 letter addressed Hamas' rocket attacks and the Israeli response.
Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, reiterated Pope Francis' call for a ceasefire and peace. "Israelis should not have to live in fear of Hamas' indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilian areas," he wrote. "At the same time, Palestinians should not have to live in fear for their lives from air and ground attacks or to suffer the humiliations of occupation."
Bishop Pates noted that the kidnappings and murders of Israeli and Palestinian youth, and the arrests of hundreds of Palestinians helped precipitate current cycle of violence. They are grim reminders "that the status quo is unsustainable. It is a recipe for recurring violence."
Beyond an immediate ceasefire, he said, "Only the emergence of a viable and independent Palestinian state living alongside a recognized and secure Israel will bring the peace for which majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians yearn."
He concluded, "It is my hope and prayer that one day we might look back and find that this latest cycle of violence was the last--a cycle broken by a just and lasting peace agreement. May we be one with Pope Francis and the world community 'not to spare prayer or any effort to end every hostility and seek the desired peace for the good of all.'"
The full text of Bishop Pates' letter is available online.
More information on the U.S. bishops' advocacy on Israeli-Palestinian peace is available here.