Peace, security and the creation of two states in the Holy Land are long overdue, said the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations.
At a meeting before the UN’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee, Archbishop Celestino Migliore said his delegation hopes many problems in the region will be resolved by “negotiation and dialogue” and that a lasting solution will include the question of the Holy City of Jerusalem.
“The time is long overdue for fraternal, open dialogue in order to bring about the birth of two states, side by side, mutually respecting each other’s right to exist and prosper,” he said Nov. 1.
A just and lasting peace will be possible if it is negotiated and not imposed by local leadership, he said.
The archbishop commended the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for its work in the Holy Land and the help it offers all Palestinian refugees, regardless of their religion.
Nevertheless, the archbishop said, three ongoing concerns must be highlighted. They include the continued expressions of violence in the region, the growing discrimination against Palestinian Christians, who make up only two percent of the population, and the security wall, which cuts access to some Palestinians’ lands and water sources, employment, commerce, education, medical care and freedom of worship.
“My delegation freely acknowledges the right of all peoples to live in peace and security; on the other hand, we believe that the Holy Land is in greater need of bridges than of walls,” he said.
The archbishop affirmed that all Palestinians have the right to fair and fair-minded treatment from their peers and recognized authorities. In addition, he said, “religious extremism of any kind, implicated in attacks, abuse and harassment of Christians in the area around Bethlehem recently, is not to be tolerated.”
The archbishop expressed the Holy See’s 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.”