[Episcopal News Service] Two United States senators, Episcopalians Chuck Hagel (Republican-Nebraska) and Lincoln Chafee (Republican-Rhode Island), "are continuing to show extraordinary leadership" on the difficult issues surrounding recent developments in the Middle East, according to Maureen Shea, director of the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations.
Hagel and Chafee, who both serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have been independent voices and are raising significant points about the search for Middle East peace and the need for greater leadership by the United States, Shea said.
Shea's remarks were echoed by the Rev. Canon Brian J. Grieves, director of Peace and Justice Ministries for the Episcopal Church. "There's no doubt that a resolution of the Israel/Palestinian conflict will require serious and fair-minded engagement from the United States," Grieves said. "Senators Hagel and Chafee offer hope that sustained U.S. leadership by the Administration will receive support from important members of Congress."
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Both senators are firm in their commitment to the State of Israel and its security, Shea said. Hagel noted our "special and historic" relationship with Israel but said that relationship "cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships… Achieving a lasting resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is as much in Israel's interest as any other country in the world."...
Shea commented that Hagel, a conservative Republican, has consistently questioned the Bush Administration on both the conduct of the war in Iraq and of its Middle East diplomacy. In Hagel's speech, much of which he later repeated on the Senate floor, he called upon President Bush and Rice to be "deeply engaged" in the Middle East and with both Syria and Iran.
"The Middle East need not be a region forever captive to the fire of war and historical hatred," Hagel said. "It can avoid this fate if the United States pursues sustained and engaged leadership worthy of our history, purpose, and power.