Caritas-Jerusalem Encouraged by Peace Plan

But Insists That Some Key Points Are Still Unaddressed

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MADRID, Spain, JULY 2, 2003 ( An official of Caritas-Jerusalem has high hopes for the «road map» plan for peace in the Holy Land.

«This process is a first glimmer of hope which we cling to, because it is what can lead us to a normal life, to forgiveness and tolerance,» said Claudette Habesch, secretary-general of Caritas-Jerusalem. «But before speaking of tolerance, we must acknowledge the other, accept him with his differences.»

Habesch is in Spain, where she is taking part in the 5th Hispanic-Latin American and Caribbean Congress on the Theology of Charity, being held in El Escorial, until Thursday.

«As a Palestinian, I must show myself optimistic because the road map includes important aspects for the Palestinian people,» she said. The peace plan represents a step forward as it «recognizes that there is a Palestinian people and a conflict, and that it is necessary to give an answer to them.»

Habesch also noted that the «road map has the backing of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, which guarantees that there is a balance in this process.»

However, she lamented that some points have not been included in the plan, such as the situation in Jerusalem, the border questions, the issue of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory, and the right of Palestinians to return.

The truce signed by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa «is an important step, although the condition is that Israel should also take a step toward the peace process,» she noted.
<br> Now that there is access to the Gaza Strip, the priority for Caritas is to activate the medical center donated by the Latin Patriarchate.

Habesch reported that there is also a project in one of the Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza for the development of women because, «to achieve peace and reconciliation it is necessary to work and sensitize those who are directly involved in the process.»

In this connection, Caritas’ secretary-general in Jerusalem expressed her conviction about «the decisive role of the Palestinian woman, not only because she represents 50% of the community, but because she is responsible for the education of the children. The idea is to give women the necessary tools so that they can participate in society and be an important part of its development.»

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