Geneva Pact Raises Hopes for an Israeli-Palestinian Peace

So Says Spokesman of Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land

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JERUSALEM, DEC. 3, 2003 ( A pact signed in Geneva by Palestinian and Israeli civil and political figures shows that a peace treaty is possible, says the spokesman of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

The launching of the «Geneva Initiative for Peace in the Middle East» took place Monday in the Swiss city in the presence of some 400 Palestinian and Israeli delegates. Leaders worldwide have given their support to this peace plan.

The pact is «an example and a challenge,» Father David Jaeger, spokesman of the Franciscan Custody, explained in an interview Tuesday with the Italian episcopate’s SIR agency.

Juridically, the pact is a private document between citizens, written and published «to challenge their respective governments, as though saying: ‘If we have been able to achieve it, so can you, if you want to.'»

«Implicit is the reproach: ‘If you haven’t done so up to now, and if you still don’t do so, it’s not because it can’t be done, but because you don’t want to,'» Father Jaeger said.

Promoted by Yosi Beilin, former Israeli Minister of Justice, and by Yasser Abed Rabbo, former Palestinian Minister of Information, the plan is not official but «is applicable,» the priest said.

«The authors are serious people, not only intellectually, but with experience in government,» the Franciscan added.

Obviously «no one is saying that the document is perfect, but it is sufficiently detailed to show that a peace treaty is possible,» he noted.

«Should the negotiations be effective, the Church will be able to be heard and will have her reservations about the insufficient attention to the request for an internationally guaranteed special status for Jerusalem,» the priest said.

Father Jaeger believes that if this agreement is to be concrete, a «mobilization» is also necessary, to see if the «popular sentiment» can be voiced by «political parties willing to reflect those sentiments and give them due expression at the political and governmental level.»

Today, the front page of the Italian edition of L’Osservatore Romano had a photograph of the signing of the «Geneva Pact» highlighting the theme: «Peace is possible.»

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