Washington – In the Holy Land, “the route of the barrier wall, the confiscation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank, especially now in the Bethlehem area and the Cremisan Valley, and any expansion of settlements threaten to undermine the two-state solution”. This is what was expressed in a statement from 18 US prelates who made a prayer pilgrimage to Israel and the Palestinian Territories organized by the US Episcopal Commmision for justice and international peace, presided over by Bishop Richard E. Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines. In the days of the pilgrimage, held shortly after the last Israeli military operation in Gaza, the Bishops speak of “having encountered pain, intransigence and cynicism. But also saw signs of inspiration and hope”. Many reported – they write – that the window of opportunity for peace was narrowing dangerously. If it closes, the futures of both Palestinians and Israelis will be harmed”.
The statement, sent to Fides Agency, focuses on the “signs of contradiction” that characterize the present in the land where Jesus was born and lived. Starting from those recorded in Jerusalem, the city of peace: “We were told more than once – they write – that the city could erupt in violence as it has on far too many occasions”. Even the barrier Wall built by the Israeli government in large part on Palestinian territories is another sign of contradiction: “For Israelis – say the Bishops – it is a sign of security; for Palestinians, a sign of occupation and exclusion. In crossing the border one moves from freedom and prosperity to the intimidation of military checkpoints, humiliation, and deeper poverty”. In the statement the American Bishops in particular describe the difficulties which mark the plight of Palestinian Christians: “The Christian community is emigrating at alarming rates. As we learned from Patriarch Fouad Twal, the unresolved conflict and occupation undermine human dignity and the ability of Christians to raise their families. Israeli policies in East Jerusalem prohibit Christians who marry someone from outside the City to remain there with their spouse, and security policies restrict movement and confiscate lands, undermining the ability of many Christian families to survive economically”.
Faced with this scenario, the US Bishops insist that “there is no military solution to the conflict”, but tragically “violence on both sides undermines the trust needed to achieve peace”. The only chance for peace coincides with the “two-State solution” supported by the Holy See and by the US Bishops Conference: one that foreshadows a “secure and recognized Israel, that lives in peace with a free and independent Palestinian State”.
By: Agenzia Fides