The agreement, to be known as the First Alexandria Declaration of the Religious Leaders of the Holy Land, was approved today (Monday 21 January) at a landmark conference of religious leaders in the Egyptian port city, chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey.
The seven-point declaration pledges the faith leaders to use their religious and moral authority to work for an end to violence and the resumption of the peace process. It also envisages the establishment of a permanent committee of leaders from the three religions in the Holy Land, to pursue the implementation of the declaration. The accord also calls on Israeli and Palestinian political leaders to implement the Mitchell and Tenet recommendations.
Dr Carey said: "The Holy Land is holy to us all – Christian, Muslim and Jew. We have a shared duty therefore to do all we can to make it a land of peace and harmony. I hope this conference and the declaration the religious leaders have concluded may become a landmark in the quest for that peace and harmony. I hope too it will come to be seen as an historic moment for the co-operation of our three faiths in the region."
The conference received support in advance from both the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat. Dr Carey said he hoped its outcomes would also receive the clear backing of political leaders.
He said: "Of course no declaration by religious leaders or anyone else can act as a magic wand – a panacea for all the ills and injustices, the savagery and inhumanity that have scarred and continue to scar the Holy Land. We are not so naïve. But it is our duty and our desire to do what we can to bring forth good from evil – hope from despair."
The conference, which began on Sunday, is the first occasion on which such senior figures from the three religions have held focussed discussions in this way. It is being co-hosted by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar al-Sharif – Dr Mohamed Sayed Tantawy, the most senior Islamic figure in Egypt and holder of one of the most prestigious positions among Sunni Muslims worldwide.
According to our faith traditions, killing innocents in the name of God is a desecration of his Holy Name, and defames religion in the world. The violence in the Holy Land is an evil which must be opposed by all people of good faith. We seek to live together as neighbours, respecting the integrity of each other’s historical and religious inheritance. We call upon all to oppose incitement, hatred and the misrepresentation of the other.
Hs Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey
His Eminence Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawy
The Sephardi Chief Rabbi Bakshi-Doron
The Deputy Foreign Minister, Rabbi Michael Melchior
The Rabbi of Tekoa, Rabbi Menachem Fromen
Rabbi David Rosen, President of the WCRP
The Rabbi of Savyon, Rabbi David Brodman
Rabbi Yitzak Ralbag, Rabbi of Maalot Dafna
Chief justice of the Sharia Courts, Sheikh Taisir Tamimi
Minister of State for the PA, Sheikh Tal El Sider
Mufti of the Armed Forces, Sheikh Abdulsalam Abu Schkedem
The Mufti of Bethlehem, Sheikh Taweel
Representative of the Greek Patriarch, Archbishop Aristichos
The Latin Patriarch, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah
The Melkite Archbishop, Archbishop Boutrous Mu’alem
Representative of the Armenian Patriarch, Archbishop Chinchinian
The Bishop of Jerusalem, the Rt Revd Riah Abu El Assal