The Common Good

Evangelical Leaders Meet Rice on Middle East Peace

On Friday, Oct. 26, I was part of a small delegation of evangelical leaders who met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. We were there to follow up the letter we sent to President Bush in late July to encourage more vigorous U.S. efforts to promote a fair, two-state solution for Israel/Palestine.

Secretary Rice understands the formidable obstacles. She spoke of a little moment of opportunity, but she also underlined the urgency. If the Palestinians do not soon have a realistic prospect of their own state for the near future, the extremists will take over the Palestinian cause and things will be much worse. The Arab states are frightened at the danger of a stronger Hamas backed by Iran. Both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders know that the window of opportunity for realizing a two-state solution will not remain open very long.

Secretary Rice indicated very clearly that the support of evangelical leaders for a negotiated agreement that would provide security, peace, and economic opportunity for two independent states is enormously helpful. She also said that the necessary compromises by both sides on the details are clear and available. What we need is a psychological breakthrough.

I am convinced that Secretary Rice is investing her very best resources and efforts to move the dialogue forward toward a just, permanent, two-state solution. She needs our prayers and our vigorous support.

The group that met with her last Friday has plans in the works to rally evangelicals to support a two-state solution. You will hear more of that in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, read and share the letter we sent to President Bush in July with your friends. Urge them to sign it. And pray regularly and fervently that God will guide all the relevant governments - especially those of Israel, Palestine, and the U.S. - to seek the paths that make for a just peace for everyone in Israel/Palestine.

Ron Sider is president of Evangelicals for Social Action, a professor and director of the Sider Center on Ministry and Public Policy at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a member of the Red Letter Christians.

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