Franciscan Custody Unhappy with U.S. Vote on Jerusalem

Statements of Spokesman Father David Jäger

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JERUSALEM, OCT. 7, 2002 ( The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land criticized the demand by the U.S. Congress that Jerusalem be recognized as the capital of Israel, calling it a decision that does not respect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Although President George W. Bush signed the legislation that urged recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — it was part of a funding bill for U.S. diplomatic activity — he said he did not wish to modify Jerusalem’s status. He further said the clauses on Jerusalem interfered with his authority to set U.S. foreign policy, the Associated Press reported.

Speaking over Vatican Radio, Father David Jäger, spokesman of the Custody of the Holy Land, said: «It is obvious that the initiative of U.S. congressmen does not please the Bush administration, which has made it known that it will continue to uphold international law in this matter.»

«First of all, Jerusalem has world relevance. Therefore, they should respond to the demands of the United Nations, in regard to the internationally relevant dimension of Jerusalem,» he explained.

«The type of territorial sovereignty will depend on the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, who already committed themselves in 1993 to negotiate on the city,» the priest said. «One can then foresee that the ordinary criteria on self-determination of the peoples living in the city will be followed.»

«As is known, the Holy See, in perfect harmony with the United Nations, has always claimed an internationally guaranteed special status for Jerusalem,» he continued. «It is especially gratifying that in 1997 the United Nations General Assembly confirmed this perspective.»

Thanks to this law, the peace negotiations will be able to guarantee the rights of believers of the three religions, Father Jäger emphasized.

Explaining the meaning of the Vatican’s proposal for Jerusalem and of the U.N. resolution, the priest concluded that «since the holy places affect a great part of humanity, it is not possible that their fate should depend on one nation or another. It is necessary that the responsibility be assumed by the international community, through a representative organization.»

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