Nazareth-Mosque Decision Pleases Vatican

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2002 ( The Vatican expressed its satisfaction today with the Israeli government´s decision to halt the construction of the controversial Nazareth mosque.

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Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls published a press statement explaining that with this measure, the executive re-establishes “the legality, respect for Holy Places, and consideration of the respective communities of believers.”

He said the Vatican hopes that “the traditional harmonious coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Nazareth, endangered by a provocative initiative, will be restored with the contribution of the authorities and the whole population.”

It “is easy to understand that this is not a decision against the Muslims, the majority of whose religious and political authorities — in the region and the world — expressed their opposition to the project, which wounded the sensibility of the Christian world and pilgrims,” Navarro-Valls said. Yasser Arafat himself publicly opposed the plan.

On Sunday, the Israeli government accepted the conclusions of an interministerial commission, which voted 5-1 to halt the construction work completely and proposed seven alternative sites for the mosque.

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