With Israel and Hamas still unable to reach a deal to free hostages and halt their war, Catholic leaders in the northwest United States are calling for an agreement between the sides, as well as for them to negotiate a two-state solution for lasting peace.

In a joint statement, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle, Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima, Bishop Jeffrey Fleming of Great Falls-Billings, Seattle’s auxiliary bishops, and seven women’s religious communities, said they “deplore” the actions by both Israel and Hamas, beginning with Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

About 1,200 people were killed and 250 hostages taken by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attack. About 100 of those hostages remain in captivity. As of Feb. 13, Gaza’s health ministry said the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 28,000. The region also faces a growing humanitarian crisis with millions displaced.

“As Catholics, we pray for a peaceful end to the war in Israel and Gaza, which is destroying innocent lives and devastating families, and invite all people of faith to pray and advocate for a peaceful resolution,” the leaders said in a Feb. 14 statement.

“We call for a humanitarian ceasefire, knowing that the continued fighting will not resolve the root causes of this relentless cycle of violence, but instead, sow the seed of intergenerational hatred and animosity,” they continued. “We also fervently pray for the immediate release of all hostages and for everyone who is suffering due to the inhumanities and violence inflicted by this war.”

The Catholic leaders went on to say that they are concerned about the widening of the conflict. Specifically, the involvement of additional nations from the Middle East and West. They also highlighted the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia throughout the world, “which exacerbates the sin of racism and ignores the dignity of the human person.”

What’s needed now, they said, is peace and accountability.

“Peace is needed now. Accountability rather than retribution is needed now,” the statement said. “Language that speaks of peace and reconciliation without words of violence and vengeance is needed now.”

Beyond the immediate need for ceasefire and freeing of hostages, the Catholics leaders also emphasized the importance of the sides reaching an agreement on a two-state solution that will provide lasting peace for the region. They advocate for the international community to support these efforts, and to make sure those who perpetrated war crimes from both sides are held accountable.

“We urge a return to negotiating a two-state solution and call on the international community to re-engage in active and sustained support for a just and lasting peace,” they said. “We also urge the United Nations and relevant authorities to investigate all war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law committed on Oct. 7, 2023, and beyond, as well as those committed in retaliation in the ensuing months, so that truth prevails, and accountability is ensured.”