10-November-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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US bishops say leadership needed in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Violent actions and harmful policies by both Israelis and Palestinians must come to an end if the region hopes to achieve respect for human dignity, said the leader of the U.S. bishops' international peace efforts.

"Our Conference reiterates its call for strong U.S. leadership that holds both parties accountable for building a just and lasting peace," stressed Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, chair of the bishops' international justice and peace committee.

In a Nov. 8 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the bishop explained that the conference supports a two-state solution that includes "a secure and recognized Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestinian state."

However, he warned, both sides are undermining the possibility of "a just resolution" through actions and policies that "weaken initiatives for reconciliation and peace."

"Recent actions by Palestinians and Israelis perpetuate an unsustainable status quo that is profoundly dangerous to both peoples," he cautioned. As an example, Bishop Pates pointed to a "recent barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza into Southern Israel."

These attacks represent "a continuing pattern of morally unjustifiable uses of indiscriminate force against civilians," he said. "They spread fear among Israeli families and damage the Palestinian cause by undercutting the trust necessary for negotiations."

In addition, the bishop said, "Israeli occupation and security policies are also undermining the possibility of a two-state solution."

He criticized the Israeli plan to re-route the Israeli-Palestinian separation wall in the Cremisan Valley, which would harm the Christian families who depend on these lands for agriculture and cut them off from water sources, family members and schools.

He called on the State Department to voice these concerns - also raised by the bishops of the Holy Land - with the government of Israel.

"The Cremisan Valley situation is a microcosm of a protracted pattern that has serious implications for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Bishop Pates observed.

Moving the separation wall and "disassociating Palestinian families from their lands and livelihoods" only builds more frustration and resentment among communities in the West Bank, increasing the chances of violence, he explained.

Bishop Pates stressed that cooperation and efforts on both sides will be needed to achieve real peace in the region.

Palestinians must end violence and work to improve security and governance, he explained, while Israelis must end settlement expansion in the West Bank and home demolitions in East Jerusalem.

Israelis must also ease residency requirements to allow family unity, permit movement in the West Bank and consider the impact of the security wall route on Palestinian families, he added.

"Leaders on both sides must give Israelis and Palestinians hope for a different future free of fear and full of promise," he said.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=6517#ixzz2C2X6ZELV

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