(RNS/ENInews) Nearly two dozen Christian leaders are calling on the Obama administration to renew diplomatic efforts to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“With rapid change underway in the Arab world we believe that the time to act is now—before events make the task of reaching an agreement more difficult,” said 20 leaders of Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox denominations in a March 7 letter to President Obama.

The leaders called on Obama “to encourage both sides to take responsibility now for creating the conditions necessary for talks to succeed.”

The leaders from the Washington-based Churches for Middle East Peace also said they were disappointed with the recent veto by the U.S. on a United Nations Security Council resolution that called Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories illegal.

Churches for Middle East Peace had urged Obama not oppose the resolution.

“We believe bold and immediate new steps are needed now to prevent this veto from further damaging America’s credibility as a broker to help resolve this conflict that threatens the security of both peoples and denies self-determination to Palestinians,” the leaders wrote.

Signers of the letter include the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches; the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA); and the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

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