Washington, D.C., 29 February 2012 (The American Task Force on Palestine)– The American Task Force on Palestine yesterday hosted a Washington dinner for the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL), the consultative body that comprises the most senior official Israeli and Palestinian religious leaders. CRIHL was established as the implementing body of the historic declaration signed in Alexandria, Egypt in 2002 in which Israeli and Palestinian religious leaders pledged to work together to end violence and promote peace. The event was sponsored by ATFP board member Dr. Adnan M. M. Mjalli and moderated by ATFP President Dr. Ziad J. Asali. Numerous CRIHL members spoke at the event, which was a rare instance of Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders from Palestinian and Israeli societies assembling to promote dialogue and advocate for peace.
In his remarks, CRIHL Convener Rev. Dr. & Canon Trond Bakkevig of Norway noted that his family had lived in Amman, Jordan, before 1967, and travelled to Jerusalem, which is about an hour drive away, on a weekly basis. He said since those formative experiences, he has been committed to seeking peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land. Bakkevig said that leaders in all local communities “need to take responsibility for resolving the conflict” and that what outsiders like himself can do is “help facilitate dialogue and promote understanding.” He said the Council from the outset understood that it had to be based on these local religious institutions, and said the Chief Rabbinate, local churches and the Sharia Council all responded very positively when the idea was first floated and did not hesitate to join the Council. He said it is very significant that many of these religious authorities are linked to political institutions, for example the close relationship between the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, while Muslim and Christian institutions work closely with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Wakf and Religious Affairs. Such religious leaders “do not substitute for political leadership,” he said, but “they can help guide politicians on religious matters.”
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See photos from the CRIHL visit to the US.