Vatican Wants International Observers in Middle East

Response to Ongoing Violence

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 27, 2002 ( A top Vatican aide asked that international observers be sent to the Middle East, given the violence ravaging the Holy Land.

Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican secretary for relations with states, told Vatican Radio on Saturday, «The Holy See has been thinking of this proposal for more than a year, as one cannot witness passively the daily deaths of Israelis and Palestinians.»

«Every morning we hear news of this really sad war,» he added. «Once again, it is necessary to help both sides find the path of reason, especially of negotiation.»

Today in Jerusalem, for the first time, a Palestinian woman launched a bomb attack, killing herself and an 81-year-old Israeli man and wounding at least a dozen people on a busy street, the Associated Press reported.

In Lebanon, the Al-Manar television station run by the militant Hezbollah movement said the bomber was Shinaz Amuri, a female student at Al-Najah University in the West Bank town of Nablus, according to AP.

In his Saturday interview, Archbishop Tauran referred to Mideast violence and said: «This is why we have thought of the presence of observers, or at least of a structure of dissuasion that will allow both sides of the conflict to silence their arms and reflect on their common destiny. One cannot think of peace while holding weapons.»

According to the archbishop, his appeal is all the more urgent in the wake of religious leaders´ Day of Prayer for Peace, held in Assisi last Thursday.

«Through the wonderful testimonies we heard, we were able to discover, like all those with the Pope, that only peace is holy, not war; a very important message,» he observed.

«Another aspect I would like to emphasize is that the meeting reminded the world that religion, with a capital ´R,´ has its place in society as the indispensable factor for public dialogue. It is necessary to stress this forcefully, after last Sept. 11,» the French archbishop emphasized.

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