11/03/2006, 00.00
VATICAN - ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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Vatican: Negotiations "without pre-conditions" for "two state solution" in Holy Land

Addressing the UN, the Holy See representative drew attention to the need for international guarantees for Jerusalem that would guarantee religious freedom for all and allow free access to Holy Places.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The international community, and in particular the Quartet (UN, United States, Europe and Russia) should use its good offices to realize a "two state solution", that is, the peaceful coexistence of Israel and Palestine. Going for negotiations without the "imposition of preconditions on either side" is, in the view of the Holy See, the best way of finding a solution to the conflict weighing on all the Middle East and the rest of the world, and which includes the matter of the "internationally guaranteed" status of Jerusalem.

The Vatican's proposals about the conflict that continues to shed blood in the Holy Land were presented yesterday by the Permanent Observer of the Holy See, Mgr Celestino Migliore. He was addressing the Special Political and Decolonization Committee of the 61st General Assembly of the United Nations on the problem of the Palestinian refugees. The text of his address was published by the Vatican.

He said: "Each year at this meeting we recite the seemingly endless list of difficulties and differences separating Israelis and Palestinians", but they are differences which make it all the more urgent for states to address the problem of the "fundamental injustice at the heart of this question".

The Vatican diplomat continued: "The centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the persistent instability in the Middle East cannot be ignored. This is why my delegation remains convinced of the two state solution as the basis for the resolution of the crisis, which would permit Israelis to live in security in their own land and Palestinians to live safely in a viable state of their own. This can only be achieved if the international community, and in particular the Quartet, shoulders the burden of reactivating genuine negotiations with all dispatch."

"It is a sad fact," continued Mgr Migliore, "that the international community has failed to engage the Israelis and Palestinians in significant and substantive dialogue along with dispute resolution in order to bring stability and peace to both. It falls squarely upon the international community to use its good offices to facilitate with all speed a rapprochement between the two sides. Evidently, those brokering the negotiations will have to maintain a balanced approach, avoiding the imposition of preconditions on either side. Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the key to a series of questions affecting the whole Middle East, without going into the consequences for the wider world."

Expressing hope that a negotiated solution may be found to bring "a peace that is not imposed" to the entire region, Mgr Migliore said that, in the opinion of the Holy See, such a solution should include the status of Jerusalem. "In light of the numerous incidents of violence and challenges to free movement posed by the Security Wall, the Holy See renews its support for internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities."

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