Peace Hopes Fading in Mideast, Says Vatican Newspaper

L’Osservatore Romano Comments on Death of 14-Month-Old

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 27, 2002 ( Recent Palestinian suicide attacks and Israel’s sharp reprisals make peace ever more distant in the Middle East, contends the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper.

A front-page story headlined “Hope for Peace Endangered” in the Saturday edition of L’Osservatore Romano reports on the death of a 14-month-old Palestinian girl. The child died Thursday from tear gas as she was carried in the arms of her grandmother, who was shopping at a Hebron market.

“Little Gharam Manaa, who died in the smoke of the bombs thrown to enforce respect for the curfew, is the emblem of peace suffocated daily by violence,” the article states.

“The ‘kamikaze’ attacks on the one hand, and the hardening of ‘security measures’ on the other, have had as their only result the raising of the level of conflict,” the article continues.

“The clash of arms has drowned the voices of those who struggle to have the crisis addressed through diplomatic confrontation,” it states. “Both fronts blame the adversary; it is a sterile dialectical exercise to try to hide the inability to hear theses different from one’s own, running the risk of discovering that reason is not just on one side.”

Since Sept. 28, 2000 — the day Ariel Sharon walked on the esplanade of the Jerusalem mosques, triggering the Palestinian intifada — violence has killed more than 1,800 Palestinians and more than 600 Israelis.

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