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Churches ask Bush to support peacekeeping force. (Nation).

A coalition of U.S. Protestant and Catholic churches has asked President Bush to deploy international peacekeepers to the Middle East to ensure calm between Israelis and Palestinians.

Churches for Middle East Peace, whose membership includes the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns and the Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men, said the peacekeepers could help end "a humanitarian crisis of shocking dimensions."

The peacekeeping force is central to a proposal offered by Arab nations that received tepid support from the White House. Bush has traditionally been cool to the idea of an international peacekeeping force.

"Such a move would not only fundamentally change the stalemated dynamics on the ground, but would also set the stage for a third-party role during the troop withdrawal, negotiation and implementation phases of a fresh peace process," the group said in an Aug. 21 letter.

The churches took steps to express "our deep and abiding compassion for the Israeli people who live with fear, suffer appalling wounds and die from Palestinian attacks."

Still, the letter said the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is at the root of the conflict and said the desperation of the Palestinians has led them to violence.
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Author:Donovan, Gill
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 13, 2002
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