Cardinal Sodano Condemns Israeli Threat Against Arafat

International Law Must Be Respected, Says Secretary of State

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VENICE, Italy, APRIL 25, 2004 ( The Vatican Secretary of State condemned a threat against Yasser Arafat and said the solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict instead calls for the application of international law.

«In what code of the world is such an action possible?» Cardinal Angelo Sodano asked on Saturday. He was responding to journalists who asked him to comment on statements made Friday by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon against the president of the Palestinian National Authority.

Today, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and two other Israeli government ministers said Sharon has no immediate plans to assassinate Arafat.

«Nations have created law even in times of war. Our civilization must go forward, not backward,» the cardinal said in an aside at the inauguration of the Marcianum General Study center.

«Where is legality in that region today?» the cardinal asked. «There are United Nations resolutions and they must be applied. We must not forget them. If we want legality, let us begin from there.»

«We must not have two weight measures. International law is valid for Italy, for Iraq, for Israel and for Palestine,» he said in statements published today by the Italian press.

In an official note March 22, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls condemned the targeted killings of figures chosen by the Israeli army, such as Palestinian Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the radical Islamic group Hamas.

Regarding the situation in Iraq, Cardinal Sodano said that now «is the time of solidarity. How can one not feel close to those peoples? This is the time to help Iraq. How can the Church forget this mission?»

«All movements … of students, intellectuals, workers, should take up the banner of solidarity. I say it with my heart in my hand,» he said.

In this connection, «the U.N. has its function,» he added. «But the fact is that the U.N. is one word. It depends on what the 191 states want that form part of it and, in particular, what the states of the Security Council want, as it is the one that decides.»

«If one state shuts itself up in a veto and another in another veto, the responsibility is of these nations,» the cardinal said.

«The veto is already in itself something absurd,» he added. «It should disappear, as it was the fruit of the postwar period. During the Cold War it might have had a function, but today it is an anachronism. Therefore, instead of talking of the U.N., I speak of the states that are members of the U.N.»

Of the role the United Nations should exercise in Iraq, the cardinal said: «Let’s let the technocrats decide. The Holy See cannot become involved in the area of concrete recipes.»

Cardinal Sodano added: «There are many signs of hope on the horizon. It seems that many lights are lighting up. Let’s hope that our great nations, rich in so much civilization, will be able to find a solution and it will be the task of Europe and of the United States to help Iraq.»

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