01/15/2010, 00.00
ISRAEL – PALESTINE

Distance between Israelis and Palestinians growing in Jerusalem, Catholic bishops say

Prelates from Europe and North America lament the violence, insecurity and home demolitions in the Holy City because they are widening the gap between the two peoples and threaten the Christian presence in the Holy Land. Solutions are clear; what is lacking is leaders’ political will and courage.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/HLC) – Eight bishops from Europe and North America have lamented the growing distance between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem and the lack of will by political authorities to achieve peace.

The prelates belong to Holy Land Coordination, an association that fosters solidarity between Western and Eastern bishops. Since 1998, they have travelled to the Holy Land each year to meet the region’s religious leaders and prominent figures.

At the end of their trip yesterday, the bishops said that eight months after Benedict XVI’s visit to the region as a pilgrim of peace, “the two state solution does not seem any closer.”

In their press release, they noted that whilst many want peace, “The solutions are well known to leaders, but what is needed is political will and courage.”

The trip took the bishops to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, and other places. However, it is the situation in Jerusalem that has alarmed them the most.

“There is a growing distance between Israelis and Palestinians—a lack of human contact that undermines trust and dialogue. Violence, insecurity, home demolitions, permit and visa problems, the route of the wall, expropriation of lands and other policies threaten both a two-state solution and the Christian presence.”

In their statement, the bishops also called for the “full implementation of the Fundamental Agreement” between the Holy See and the State of Israel, which has been waiting for 16 years to be put into practice. By facilitating visas for pastoral workers, it “will enable the Church to fulfil its mission.”

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