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Resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

05 Jul 2001 – On 15 June, the bishops of the United States, through the International Policy Committee of the U.S. Catholic Conference, unanimously passed their Resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis at a meeting of the Committee in Atlanta. The text of the resolution follows.

Resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

During the last nine months we have watched with sorrow and dismay as opportunities for peace in the Middle East have been lost in a spiral of violence. This violence is clearly seen in the destruction of so many homes, in the growing number of wounded and disabled, and most of all in the number of Palestinians and Israelis who have lost their lives, including many children and youth. This cycle of violence has exacerbated an already dangerous situation and dimmed prospects for peace. In this time of darkness, we make our own the prayer of Pope John Paul II.

The terms of the Middle East drama are well known: The Jewish people, after tragic experiences connected with the extermination of so many sons and daughters, driven by the desire for security, set up the State of Israel. At the same time the painful condition of the Palestinian people was created, a large part of whom are excluded from their land… Gathered here today, we present to the One God, to the Living God, to the Father of all, the problems of peace in the Middle East and also the problem, which is so dear to us, of the rapport and real dialogue with those with whom we are united – in spite of the differences – by faith in one God, the faith inherited from Abraham. May the spirit of unity, mutual respect, and understanding prove to be more powerful than what divides and sets in opposition.” (Homily at Otranto, Italy, Oct. 5, 1980)

In this spirit, we reiterate our strong call of November 2000: “The only acceptable option is an end to the violence, respect for the basic human rights of all, and a return to the path of peace.” (U.S. Catholic Conference, November 15, 2000.) A way must be found to return quickly to genuine negotiations, embracing, as far as possible, the gains made in the last rounds of final status talks. We deeply regret that the negotiations last summer and fall did not achieve a lasting settlement. Despite that failure and recent, terrible events, it is not too late to embrace nonviolence, dialogue and negotiation as the only road forward. The steps toward a just and lasting peace remain the same: real security for the State of Israel, a viable state for Palestinians, just resolution of the refugee problem, an agreement on Jerusalem which protects religious freedom and other basic rights,1 an equitable sharing of resources, especially water, and implementation of relevant UN resolutions and other provisions of international law.2 These steps will pave the way to a future of cooperation and accommodation rather than occupation and conflict.

As supporters of the State of Israel and a state for Palestinians, we recognize that each side in this conflict has deep, long-standing and legitimate grievances that must be addressed if there is to be a just and lasting peace.

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