Holy See’s Remarks on Middle East Situation at UN Security Council

‘The cradle of civilizations and the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Middle East has become the theater of incredible brutality.’

Pope Francis addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York

PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO

Below is the text of the intervention that Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, gave at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question in New York on Oct. 19. In the address, the Holy See voices its concern about the ongoing violence in the region, especially in Syria and Iraq, and reiterated its support for a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The intervention was published Thursday on the website of Vatican Radio:

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Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question:

New York, 19 October 2016

Mr. President,

My delegation thanks the Presidency of the Russian Federation for bringing this topic of the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question, to the floor of this Chamber and to the attention of the entire international community.

The gradual movement away from the two-State solution proposed in 1947 by the United Nations for what was then Palestine under the British Mandate is  cause for very grave concern. The collapse in April 2014 of the peace negotiations between the two parties has led  to negative unilateral actions and acts of violence stoked by inflammatory rhetoric from both parties.

The straying from the Madrid peace process and the Oslo Accords of the 1990’s has served to increase the level of frustration and desperation among the  Palestinian polity. A unity government in the West Bank and Gaza is essential to advancing the negotiations and to bringing peace and prosperity to its people, so heavily dependent on international aid for basic needs. Regular briefings in this Chamber inform us of the financial woes of UNRWA (the  United  Nations  Relief  and  Works  Agency  for  Palestine),  as  it  faces  ever-growing humanitarian needs.

My delegation would like to underline once  again that, for the Holy See, the two-State solution holds the best promise. If Israel and Palestine do not agree to exist side-by-side, reconciled and sovereign within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders, peace will remain a distant dream and security an illusion.

Mr. President,

While  the  focus  of  today’s  debate  is  how  to  urge  Israel  and  Palestine  to  stop  making unilateral  decisions  and  taking  independent  actions  that  engender  the  resumption  of meaningful  negotiations,  the  Palestinian  Question  cannot  but  be  viewed  as  part  of  the Middle East turmoil that impacts the whole region and beyond.

The  cradle  of  civilizations  and  the  birthplace  of  Judaism,  Christianity  and  Islam,  the Middle  East  has  become  the  theater  of  incredible  brutality.  The  utter  disregard  of international  humanitarian  law  has  reached  alarming  levels  of  inhumanity.  Schools, hospitals,  humanitarian  convoys,  humanitarian  workers  and  journalists,  and  entire villages and cities are no longer “collateral damage”: They themselves have become targets of indiscriminate attacks. The corpses under the ruins and the wandering refugees are a clear witness to this cynical contempt and trampling of international humanitarian law.

Pope Francis has reiterated his appeal for an immediate ceasefire in Aleppo and other parts of Syria, saying, “With a sense of urgency I renew my appeal, pleading with all my strength to those responsible for an immediate ceasefire, which is imposed and respected at least for the time necessary to allow the evacuation of civilians, especially children, who are still trapped under the ferocious bombardments.”

Mr. President,

We  continue  to  debate  in  this  Chamber  and  in  other  United  Nations  fora,  while  the Christians and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in the Middle East are on the verge of total annihilation. The intentions of the terrorist and extremist groups to banish them from the region have been unmistakably manifest since the start of this barbaric persecution. Testimonies and traces of the historical rootedness in the region of Christian  and  other  ethnic  and  religious  groups  are  also  being  wiped  out,  as  churches, monasteries and cultural monuments and artifacts have been reduced to dust and rubble.

In  this  madness  beyond  comprehension  and  belief,  so  many  members  of  the  majority groups have also fallen victim.

Mr. President,

Mandated to maintain international peace and security, this Council is called  to lead the entire international community to stop the bloodshed and destruction. States supporting client groups must stop the flow of weapons and munitions into the region. Geopolitical differences  and  the  noise  of  arms  must  not  stop  dialogue  and  negotiations.  Madmen preaching  hatred  and  inciting  to  violence  in  God’s  name  must  be  stopped.  All  are summoned  to  do  their  part  in  fostering  in  the  region  respect  for  fundamental  human rights, including freedom of religion and of expression. All are called to greater solidarity,

so that humanitarian assistance and specific programs for the most vulnerable could be assured as much as possible in the context of such challenging situations.

My delegation would like to conclude with a thought of Pope Francis on the fundamental importance of dialogue. “Dialogue,” he said, “is what creates peace. It is impossible for peace to exist without dialogue. All the wars, all the strife, all the unsolved problems over which we clash are due to a lack of dialogue. When there is a  problem, talk: This makes peace.”

This dialogue is still possible and must be pursued with urgency, for the sake of the people of Syria and all the inhabitants of the region.

Thank you, Mr. President.

PS: Statement delivered in arabic by Msgr. Simon Kassas, First Secretary

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