Palestinians Can Be Israel´s Friends, Patriarch Says

Michel Sabbah Meets Privately With Pope

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 6, 2001 ( The Palestinians would become “Israel´s most important protector” once they have attained freedom, says Jerusalem´s Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah.

The patriarch was received in private audience Monday by John Paul II, who daily follows the Mideast peace process.

On Tuesday, Patriarch Sabbah told Vatican Radio that “the situation has reached irrational levels of violence on both sides; while they continue to react to one another in this way, there will be no change in the situation.”

His Beatitude appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to ask themselves a fundamental question: Why violence?

“The reason is that the Palestinian people are denied their freedom, their land,” said Patriarch Sabbah, a Palestinian native. “Once this truth is realized, then the question must be asked as to how freedom can be restored to the Palestinian people, and how it is possible for them to be independent and have their own state.”

The patriarch said he believes that the Israelis “must think about how the Palestinians can be turned into a people who are friendly with the Israelis, because it is the only possible form of protection, the only guarantee for security. Once they have freedom and a state, these people will become the first and most important protector of Israel and, at the same time, build a new society with it in this land of God.”

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