5-December-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Bishop Pates asks Congress not to cut Palestinian aid

The U.S. bishops' point man on issues of international peace urged members of Congress not to cut aid to Palestine now that the country has been granted greater recognition by the United Nations.

"Assistance to Palestinians, already heavily conditioned, is essential for humanitarian purposes and for building capacity for a future Palestinian state," said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace.

"Cutting aid will only harm the peace process," he warned. "This is not in the interests of either Israelis or Palestinians who long for peace."

In a Dec. 3 letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Bishop Pates referenced reports indicating "that Congress may consider legislation that seeks to 'punish' Palestinians for achieving a higher status at the United Nations."

He cautioned that this kind of legislation would "distract and detract" from "U.S. efforts to seek a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land."

On Nov. 29, the U.N. General Assembly voted resoundingly to approve a resolution granting Palestine the status of a "non-member observer state" with the ability to join treaties and be a part of U.N. agencies. Palestine had previously been recognized by the U.N. as a "non-member observer entity."

The Vatican welcomed the vote in a statement, calling it an "important decision" while stressing that ultimately, real peace will only come in the region through a commitment to justice, stability and respect by both Israelis and Palestinians.

Bishop Pates reiterated the conference's "support for a two-state solution - a secure and recognized Israel living alongside an independent and viable Palestinian state."

"(A)id to the Palestinians furthers this goal," he said, noting that the "Palestinian Authority and President Abbas' Fatah party have renounced violence and committed themselves, as has Israel, to a two-state solution."

Bishop Pates recalled the words of Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Israel and Palestine in 2009. The Holy Father called for an end to bloodshed, war, terrorism and fighting.

"Instead let us break the vicious circle of violence," the Pope said. "Let there be lasting peace based on justice, let there be genuine reconciliation and healing."

Bishop Pates joined with the Holy See in calling for a "sincere search for solutions" that begins with renewed negotiations and actions of goodwill, along with the commitment and aid of the United States and international community.

Speaking on behalf of the bishops' conference, he urged U.S. lawmakers to promote these goals and "resist efforts to cut off needed humanitarian and development assistance to Palestinians as they build capacity for a future state."

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=6663#ixzz2ECwGG0xg

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