Seventeen senior Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders from the Holy Land have concluded an unprecedented joint declaration pledging themselves to work together for a just and lasting peace. The agreement, to be known as the First Alexandria Declaration of the Religious Leaders of the Holy Land, was approved yesterday at a landmark conference of religious leaders in the Egyptian port city, chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey. In the seven-point declaration the faith leaders pledge 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 naive. 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. Text follows: The First Alexandria Declaration of the Religious Leaders of the Holy Land In the Name of God who is Almighty, Merciful and Compassionate, we, who have gathered as religious leaders from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities, pray for true peace in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and declare our commitment to ending the violence and bloodshed that denies the right to life and dignity. 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. The Holy Land is Holy to all three of our faiths. Therefore, followers of the divine religions must respect its sanctity, and bloodshed must not be allowed to pollute it. The sanctity and integrity of the Holy Places must be preserved, and freedom of religious worship must be ensured for all. Palestinians and Israelis must respect the divinely ordained purposes of the Creator by whose grace they live in the same land that is called Holy. We call on the political leaders of both parties to work for a just, secure and durable solution in the spirit of the words of the Almighty and the Prophets. As a first step now, we call for a religiously sanctioned cease-fire, respected and observed on all sides, and for the implementation of the Mitchell and Tenet recommendations, including the lifting of restrictions and a return to negotiations. We seek to help create an atmosphere where present and future generations will co-exist with mutual respect and trust in the other. We call on all to refrain from incitement and demonization, and to educate our future generations accordingly. As religious leaders, we pledge ourselves to continue a joint quest for a just peace that leads to reconciliation in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, for the common good of all our peoples. We announce the establishment of a permanent joint committee to carry out the recommendations of this declaration, and to engage with our respective political leadership accordingly. His 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 Mualem Representative of the Armenian Patriarch, Archbishop Chinchinian The Bishop of Jerusalem, the Rt Revd Riah Abu El Assal
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