02/08/2005, 00.00
ISRAEL – PALESTINE – HOLY LAND

Sharm el-Sheikh summit, a positive and encouraging step, says Nuncio in Jerusalem

Mgr Sambi recalls the Pope's prayers for peace in the Middle East. His sufferings are offered as a blessing for the two peoples.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Today's meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a positive step in the direction towards peace, said Mgr Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio in Jerusalem, speaking to AsiaNews.

In the meeting hosted by Egyptian Hosni Mubarak and attended by Jordanian King Abdullah, Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed to a ceasefire and committed themselves to stop all violence directed at the other. Mr Sharon also pledged to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners currently detained in Israeli prisons.

Mgr Sambi found the summit encouraging; he stressed that "the atmosphere in the region is changing"; violence is no longer acceptable, he said, and dialogue is increasingly seen as the path to peace.

The Sharm el-Sheikh meeting is thus "encouraging for it is rebuilding trust between the two parties". Now it is up to the "international community and world leaders to support this process."

The Nuncio added that what is happening is also in part due to the Pope's prayers. "For hundreds of times, John Paul II added his voice, calling for peace in the Holy Land, emphasising that human and ethical values that can lead to peace, a peace that cannot exist without justice".

According to Mgr Sambi, the Pope's "sufferings are offered to gain God's blessing on the two peoples and their leaders, so that they may have the courage needed to achieve peace" in the Holy Land, which remains "a constant concern for the Pope," he said.

"The path is long and climbing," Mgr Sambi said, "but every journey begins with one step, and the step made today is positive and in the right direction". (LF)

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