Vatican, Iranian foreign ministers discuss Israel-Hamas war amid risk of wider conflict

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian Archbishop Paul Gallagher Iran’s minister of foreign affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher. | Credit: ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images and Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher spoke by phone with his counterpart in Iran on Monday morning regarding the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, according to the Holy See.

The Vatican said the talk on Oct. 30, which comes amid fears that Iran may expand the conflict in the region, was requested by Iran’s minister of foreign affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

“In the conversation, Archbishop Gallagher expressed the Holy See’s serious concern for what is happening in Israel and Palestine, reiterating the absolute need to avoid spreading the conflict and to come to a two-state solution for a stable and lasting peace in the Middle East,” Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni said in a press release. 

Earlier this month, Amir-Abdollahian warned of a further escalation in the Middle East if Israel does not halt its strikes on Gaza.

If “measures aimed at immediately stopping the Israeli attacks” fail, “it is highly probable that many other fronts will be opened,” the Iranian foreign minister told Al Jazeera on Oct. 15. “This option is not ruled out, and this is becoming increasingly more probable.”

Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, said on Sunday that Israel’s offensive in Gaza had “crossed the red lines” and “may force everyone to take action,” CNN reported.

“Washington asks us to not do anything, but they keep giving widespread support to Israel,” Raisi warned in a post on social media. 

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS on Sunday that officials are seeing “an elevated risk of this conflict spreading to other parts of the region.”

Iran’s hostility toward Israel goes back more than 40 years, with a proxy conflict having been waged between the two Middle Eastern countries for decades.

The war between Israel and Hamas has reached unprecedented death tolls in the history of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

The Oct. 7 attack by the Sunni Islamist political and military organization Hamas killed 1,400 people, mainly civilians, according to Israeli authorities.

According to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, Israel’s counter campaign after the attack has led to a death toll of more than 8,000 Palestinians, mostly women and minors.

The Holy See supports a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

On Oct. 27, Pope Francis held a Eucharistic adoration prayer vigil for peace amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in the Holy Land.

Invoking the Virgin Mary as the Queen of Peace and Mother of Mercy, the pope implored her to “intercede for our world in danger and turmoil” and to “convert those who fuel and foment conflicts.”

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