U.S. Bishops Make Appeal to Israelis and Palestinians

Both Side Have Rights, Prelates Say

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 21, 2001 (Zenit.org).- In a soon-to-be-published resolution, U.S. Catholic bishops state that Palestinians «rightly insist» on an end to Israel´s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the practice of establishing and extending settlements in the territories.

They also state that the Israelis «rightly see,» as a cause of the conflict, the failure of Palestinians to respect Israel´s right to exist and flourish.

The resolution was issued after Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem called for constant support from the Catholic world for a solution to the Middle East crisis. In the resolution, the American bishops reaffirm their concern for, and solidarity with, the dwindling Christian community in the Holy Land.

«The native born Christian presence in Israel and the occupied territories, less than 2% of the total, risks shrinking into insignificance, in no small part due to the present troubles and their human and economic consequences,» the bishops state.

«We believe this is a moment that requires that more Israeli leaders and supporters of the state of Israel not only defend Israel and her people, but also advocate for the legitimate aspiration of Palestinians to live in their own homeland with dignity,» the bishops say.

They add: «This moment also requires that more Palestinian leaders and supporters of the Palestinian cause not simply advocate a state of their own, but also be unambiguously clear about Israel´s right to peace and security, and the imperative to end all violence.»

Lastly, the bishops call upon American Catholics to pay greater attention to the Mideast crisis and to be «unflagging in pressing our government to play an active and constructive role in the search for a just peace.»

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