The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and 32 Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders, said in a letter that a new peace initiative by former Israeli government, intelligence and security officials offers a useful sign for Middle East peace. The leaders, writing as the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), sent the letter to President Obama April 14.

Speaking of the latest Israeli initiative, as well as the Arab Peace Initiative and the Geneva Accord, the leaders said:  “The main elements of these peace initiatives reflect years of official and informal, unofficial negotiations,” the religious leaders wrote. They wrote that “the peace initiatives include creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, based on the 1967 borders with possible limited land swaps as mutually agreed; a fair negotiated resolution of the issue of refugees that does not threaten the demography of Israel; the sharing of Jerusalem by Israel and the Palestinian state with both having their capitals in the city; and Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights as part of a peace agreement with Syria.”

NILI is an initiative composed of a broad range of Jewish, Christian and Muslim national organizations in support of a common, substantive message for Middle East peace.  It’s focus is on building support for strong U.S. leadership for a two-state solution to the conflict that brings security and recognition to Israel and establishes a viable and independent state for the Palestinians—two states living side by side in peace and security—with peace agreements between Israel and all her Arab neighbors.