Presbyterian Church (USA)
Office of the General Assembly
Clifton Kirkpatrick
Stated Clerk

October 14, 2000

Dear President Clinton (cc: Secretary Albright),

We are dismayed by the terrible cycle of violence that has been unleashed
among Palestinians and Israelis as a result of the visit of Ariel Sharon,
following noontime prayers, to Al-Haram Al-Shaarif/The Temple Mount. The
events of recent days have all but crushed the hopes and aspirations of
people around the world that Palestinians and Israelis  could learn to live
together in safety. The havoc that has been wrought may, in fact, be the
death knell, not only for what was achieved in Oslo, but also for the
possibilities for your own massive investment in bringing about a peaceful
resolution.

Numerous General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have
expressed concern for the recurring conflict in the Middle East and have
repeatedly supported, prayed for and affirmed every effort directed toward
the establishment of a just and enduring peace. We have consistently called
for the self-determination of Palestinians, including their right to an
independent and sovereign state, security for Israel and a Jerusalem shared
by both Israelis and Palestinians and freely open to their three religions,
Judaism, Christianity and Islam. We have worked diligently to understand
and to interpret a situation that is both difficult because of the region's
historic complexity and hopeful because the religions of its peoples are
grounded in the faith that God is sovereign over history and destiny.

While we deplore hostage taking and the brutalization and murder of
Israeli soldiers, such acts simply do not justify  the unconscionable,
massive retaliation of the Israeli military, including indiscriminate
shooting of children and adults on the streets, the denial of access to
emergency medical care and relief supplies from the international
community, and the rocket attacks on apartment buildings containing
innocent civilians. Surely you can understand the frustrations of
Palestinian Christians and Muslims forced to live under a clear form of
apartheid, in which their land has been expropriated and turned into
hostile illegal settlements, their workers denied access to their jobs,
their homes destroyed  and their basic human and civil rights denied.

We are writing to you with special concern over the fact that the United
States has stood for many years in a unique position of opportunity in
resolving the conflict in the Middle East. There has been much rhetoric
about the desire of the U.S. to be "an honest broker" between the parties.
We regret to say that in recent months, that possibility seems to have
faded in the face of what many in the Middle East and around the world see
as a bias toward Israel and as a declaration of support for Israel's
continued occupation of Palestinian land and of Israel's intention to use
extraordinarily violent means to stop the backlash against their abuse of
he Palestinian people. In this regard, we call upon you to disassociate
ourself from the stance that appears to blame the victims of this
long-term oppression, as the primary cause of the violence.
We urge you in the strongest possible terms to use whatever influence is
left to you in this situation, working with the United Nations and the
whole international community, to find a resolution to this conflict that
is marked by justice for the Palestinian people, without which there will
never be peace in the region.  We pray that as you enter the pending summit
in Cairo, you will be prepared to insist on the right of the Palestinian
people to independent existence in their own sovereign state with a capital
of their own choosing,  to the security of the people of Israel, and a
Jerusalem that is shared by Israelis and Palestinians alike, open to the
great faiths of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

May God grant you the strength and the courage to do everything possible
in the cause of a just and lasting peace.

Respectfully,
Clifton Kirkpatrick
Stated Clerk