MILAN, Italy, JULY 5, 2001 ( Franciscan Father David Jaeger of the Holy Land Custody believes that the juridical conditions exist to relaunch the Mideast peace process.

All that is lacking is political will and a cease-fire, he says in the following interview.

--Q: At the beginning of his mandate, George Bush distanced himself from the Middle East question. Now it seems that his administration has changed its strategy.

--Father Jaeger: The United States has realized that it cannot be indifferent, although it remains to be seen if and to what degree it has a profound understanding of the situation and a clear objective, as well as the political will to have it accepted.

What is worrying is Europe´s indifference, which does not even have the will to claim a role in the region similar to that of the United States.

--Q: The European Union is the major funding source of the Palestinian National Authority.

--Father Jaeger: But it is not asked to be the banker of the others´ enterprises, but to take the initiative in promoting the peace process. What is needed is generosity, courage and imaginative politics.

--Q: Perhaps this is lacking because, while Clinton was in power, the United States and Israel excluded any other interlocutor.

--Father Jaeger: The European Union has all the power necessary not to have the door slammed on it. It is Israel´s most important trade partner and has significant economic relations with all the Arab world.

--Q: You are hoping for political initiative from the European Union, but now there isn´t even a cease-fire.

--Father Jaeger: As I said earlier, this cease-fire obsession is a side-tracking from the essential. A new round of summits to establish if and how a cease-fire can be observed, with the danger of turning the truce into a political element and not a humanitarian imperative, would serve no purpose.

--Q: But how can there be a renewal [of the peace process] after the failure of Camp David? According to many analysts, with Clinton´s failure last September, even the Oslo ´94 agreements have been annulled.

--Father Jaeger: Camp David did not annul anything, and the reasons for that failure must be analyzed. There was urgency to sign an agreement conceived by just one side, and without adequate preparations.

One side said that that was the best peace possible, but negotiations are carried out in an orderly way, with equal delegations. Camp David failed for lack of a proper method.

--Q: Is peace possible now?

--Father Jaeger: The texts of the peace agreement were already written in Taba [where the last negotiation took place in January]. The technical solutions already exist, but the political will must be created and a cease-fire is fundamental to create a favorable climate.