Here is the text of the address by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, permanent observer of the Holy See to the U.N. in New York, given Tuesday at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on the situation in the Middle East.
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The Holy See commends the Presidency of Uruguay for bringing the topic of the Middle East to the attention of the international community through this Security Council Open Debate. My delegation wishes to address first the stalled peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. With the lack of substantive negotiations taking place, acts of violence continue to spiral, bringing many to doubt seriously the continued validity of the Oslo Accords.
The Holy See believes that the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians can move forward only if it is directly negotiated between the Parties, with the strong support of the international community. This certainly requires courageous decisions from both Parties and demands fair mutual concessions. But there is no alternative, if both Israel and Palestine are to enjoy security, prosperity and peaceful co-existence, side by side with internationally recognized borders. Certain elements among both peoples have suffered too long from the misguided view that force will resolve their differences. Only sustained negotiations, entered into in good faith, will resolve their differences and bring peace to the peoples of Israel and Palestine.
Pope Francis, in his 11 January 2016 Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, spoke of this failure to bring forward the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians. He expressed the hope that the New Year that has begun “can heal the deep wounds dividing Israelis and Palestinians, and enable the peaceful coexistence of two peoples who – of this I am sure – in the depth of their hearts ask only for peace.” Acts of violence and inflammatory rhetoric must be set aside in favor of the voices of dialogue to give both peoples that peace for which their hearts long.
The Comprehensive Agreement signed between the Holy See and the State of Palestine on June 26, 2015 entered into force on January 2, 2016. It basically concerns the life and activity of the Church in Palestine. In the complex reality of the Middle East, where, in some countries, Christians have suffered persecution, the Holy See hopes that the Agreement may serve as an example of dialogue and cooperation, in particular for other Arab and Muslim majority countries.
The nearly five-year conflict in Syria rages on. More than being a conflict between Syrians, foreign fighters coming from all over the globe continue to commit unspeakable acts of horror against the civilian population in Syria and in parts of Iraq. The influence of these foreign elements, has led to sectarian violence and persecutions of religious and ethnic minorities.
Pope Francis, calling upon the International Community in his 11 January 2016 address, expressed the conviction that only common and agreed political action can stem the spread of extremism and fundamentalism, that spawn terrorist acts which reap countless victims, not only in Syria and Libya, but in other countries in the region and in North Africa.
My delegation will not repeat the litany of horrendous acts of violence against the people of Syria, already mentioned by various delegations, but would rather reiterate its appeal to all those concerned to stop the flow of arms into the region and intensify humanitarian action, in order to give the desperate refugees, and all those displaced, the wherewithal to remain in their country, or as near as possible to their homeland, with adequate food, medical supplies, water, electricity, access to education for the young, and those elements necessary for a stable and secure life in their own homeland.
My delegation expresses its support for resolution 2254 of this Council, which calls for the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and for a political settlement to the conflict in Syria. The Holy See looks forward to the talks scheduled to begin in Geneva later this week. In spite of the many strong differences still to be found among the parties to the talks, the Holy See believes that these negotiations are the best chance the International Community has to bring a stable and lasting peace to Syria and to the region.
The Holy See also looks forward to the Fourth Humanitarian Conference scheduled for 4 February 2016 and hosted by the United Kingdom, Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the United Nations, hoping that it will ease the suffering of the peoples in the region and contribute to the overall settlement of the conflict.
Thank you, Mr. President.