Patriarch Twal: Gaza Siege Should Be Lifted

Sees Hope for Peace in Education

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JERUSALEM, JUNE 14, 2010 ( The people of the Holy Land are tired of the ongoing conflict, says the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. He called for an end to the Gaza siege and the violence.

Patriarch Fouad Twal, also the president of Caritas Jerusalem, stated this in an interview published Friday by the aid agency.

He commented on the recent escalation of tension in that region after a May 31 raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a convoy that attempted to break through the Israeli blockade to bring supplies to Gaza.

«The Gaza siege needs to be lifted,» Archbishop Twal stated. «No people should have to undergo this.»

He continued: «The conflict has been going on for decades. People are tired.»

«In the Gaza strip, problems are widespread,» the prelate stated. «Many people are scarred by war and their houses have been destroyed.»

«We are receiving a lot of aid and we need it, but we have not received yet what we need the most,» he said. «It’s peace.»

New generation

The archbishop noted: «The aid we receive is like an aspirin. It gives us relief but it is not a long term solution.

«The occupation keeps us from having a normal life. We cannot move freely to go to work, to the hospital or to church like everybody else. That is no life.»

He observed that the «new generation, the young Palestinians and Israelis, were born in a climate of violence and were raised under these circumstances.»

«I believe that religious and political leaders have a great responsibility here,» Archbishop Twal asserted. «They all need to ask themselves what they can do so that this new generation will know peace.»

«We condemn any act of violence,» he said.

«All people should be able to live together in liberty and happiness, whether they are Muslims, Jews or Christians,» the prelate affirmed. «All actions impeding dialogue and negotiation do not serve peace, no matter who is responsible.»

He addressed the question of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, promising his prayers for successful negotiations «so that this land of Calvary will finally become a land of peace.»

Common sense

«We need to continue hoping,» the archbishop urged. «We are not allowed to give up hope even though the current situation is not in favor of peace talks.»

He continued: «In order to achieve progress, a lot of common sense is needed.

«We need to have a great vision and a great heart. Violence is never a solution.»

The patriarch expressed the hope «that we can help bring people together with our Caritas initiatives in the Occupied Territories.»

«Caritas has been working in the Palestinian territories since the Six Day War in 1967,» he noted.

«Yes, violence continues,» Archbishop Twal acknowledged, «but so does our charity work. Our schools and our hospitals are still open.»

«Personally, I strongly believe in education,» he said. «In our schools, children play together, eat together and pray together; that is the best dialogue possible, the best way to open yourself.»

The Caritas leader observed: «Our organization is 100% Catholic, but it is open to everybody. And our beneficiaries know that.»

«They are grateful for the much needed services we offer in the fields of education, health and social life,» he said. «Our charity knows no borders.»

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