12/21/2005, 00.00
HOLY LAND
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Hopes for peace in Mgr Sabbah's Christmas message

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem reminds Palestinians and Israelis that "God did not create you to fear or kill each other, but to love one another". From both sides there are new signs and developments. "Our Holy Land thirsts to recover its peace and holiness."

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – In a holy land that "thirsts for peace and holiness, there are "new signs and developments" between Israelis and Palestinians. Increasingly, political leaders are convinced that "security for some requires freedom and sovereignty for others".

Unlike previous years, hope plays a greater role in Mgr Michel Sabbah's Christmas message this year. In the statement he released today, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem reminded "every Palestinian and every Israeli that "God did not create you to fear or kill each other, but to love one another, to build and work together."

Addressing decision-makers directly, he urged them to be "builders of life, not of death", telling them to be "aware that demolitions, death and fighting bring only demolitions, death and more fighting".

In the message, the Patriarch writes that he sees that peace has a chance because of changing attitudes among political forces in both camps.

"The present Palestinian position asking for rights through ways of non-violence and peace means that peace and justice are possible. Also on the Israeli side we have seen signs and heard expressions indicating a new vision and a new decision."

"We know there are many difficulties. Without good will every difficulty will prove an insurmountable obstacle. Good and sincere will reduces all difficulties and finds the appropriate solution."

"It is time," Patriarch Sabbah writes, "to change ways and make the right decisions once and for to reach justice and peace."

"Delays in finding a solution and the enduring injustice [. . . represented by] the wall, barriers, prisons or assassinations will only add fuel to the violence. Violence shall cease when its cause, injustice, ceases as well; then security will reign."

"Our Holy Land thirsts to recover its peace and holiness," the Patriarch's message says at the end in an apparent appeal to political leaders. "So give both peoples the life, security and dignity they ask. To accept the responsibility of ruling a people means commitment and service to society, not an opportunity to occupy offices or to look out for personal profit."

"It is necessary to put an end to the suffering that lasted too long on this land. We hope that our leaders will now take the time and will spend their energies to accomplish what had to be accomplished long time ago:  peace and justice for two peoples capable of living side by side in peace and in good neighbourliness."

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