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A Call for Peace in the Middle East
New York, United States
August 2, 2006

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The Universal Peace Federation (UPF) deplores the outbreak and escalation of violence between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, and the loss of innocent life and human suffering in both countries. We believe that a lasting peace in the region can only be reached by a commitment to address all the root causes of the conflict. These include not only economic, political and military factors but also religious, spiritual and historical grievances that have been left untended for too long. The current bloodshed and suffering must even break the heart of God, and promises only grief for all involved.

The solution to this crisis is the concern of the entire international community, and should not be left for just a few countries to resolve on their own. We especially call on religious and community leaders from all sides to gather and earnestly consider how to resolve long decades of resentment and hostility between Israel and its Arab neighbors. This discussion must include a recognition of the right of Israel to exist, a democratic and prosperous Palestine, an independent and strong Lebanon, and a desire for a fair and equitable solution for all parties.

UPF calls for a speedy, sustainable and complete end to hostilities between Israel, Hezbollah, and throughout the region. This will require significantly greater involvement and leadership by the United States, as well as by member nations of the European Union, Organization of the Islamic Conference, and League of Arab States. The resort to military action and violence in the region by all parties cannot go on; they must achieve negotiated settlements if they are to live in peace.

The damage being done by this conflict is affecting the entire region and beyond -- not only Israel, Lebanon and Palestine, but also the relations between Islam and the West, and the interreligious relations among Christians, Muslims and Jews worldwide, comprising nearly half the world's population. We cannot afford to allow this destructive clash of civilizations to continue.

UPF calls upon its international network of Ambassadors for Peace -- many of whom participated in one or more of its 18 fact-finding trips of international religious, political and opinion leaders to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan over the past four years -- to re-double and expand their efforts to create opportunities for peaceful dialogue and understanding.

The UPF promotes interreligious dialogue and international women's peace missions and in particular support for greater consideration of the role of religion in peace and security through advocacy of a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

UPF has also developed a joint curriculum of character education and conflict resolution; and the "Play Soccer , Make Peace" competition brings young Jews and Arabs, and youths in other conflicted parts of the world into peaceful sports competition. Service Projects in the region and around the world unite people across the divides of race, religion and nationality. Other private initiatives from the Ambassador for Peace network promote the capacity for peace rooted in the individual and family committed to live for others.

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