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Israeli rabbis, Hamas founder call for peace

    Israeli rabbis have joined up with a founder of Hamas's military wing and other Palestinian sheikhs to issue a joint commitment "to relentlessly seek peace".

    Their declaration came at end of a peace summit in Spain, which took place following years of under-the-radar discussions between many of its 25 participants.

    Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Benjamin Lehman from the faculty of the Har Etzion Yeshiva in the West Bank were among the rabbis who took part in discussions with Palestinian leaders including Imad Falouji, a founder of Hamas's military wing, and Fakher Abu Awad, who used to sit on Hamas's governing council. Hamad Abu Daa'bas, the head of the Southern Branch of Israel's Islamic Movement, also took part.

    In their declaration, the rabbis and sheikhs, joined by a handful of Christian leaders, said: "We vehemently call for the cessation of incitement, misrepresentation and distortion of the image of the other and of the neighbour."

    They committed themselves "to educate future generations to uphold mutual respect".

    Michael Melchior, an Orthodox rabbi who founded the Mosaica Religious Peace Initiative, which organised the gathering together with the Palestinian-run Adam Centres for Dialogue of Civilisations, commented: "Every leader who was there has hundreds of young students who are ready to put [the declaration] into action."

    The conference was hosted by the Spanish government, and sponsored by the UN Alliance of Civilisations.

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