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On Thursday Pope Francis will have completed a year as Bishop of Rome, a year in which he has begun to transform the Church. But be in no doubt, argues our Rome correspondent, of just how wide and how deep go his aims for change
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I cannot let Frank Baigel's letter pass without comment (The Tablet, 4 January).
First, Christian Aid emphatically does not have an "anti-Israel policy". Christian Aid works for peace for both Israelis and Palestinians, but this has to be a peace founded on justice. Christian Aid's policy is to promote respect for human rights for all and to work for reconciliation and understanding.
Frank Baigel is trying to divert readers' attention away from the real issues. It does not matter whether the "security fence" is electric or electronic. What matters is that much of it has been built deep in Palestinian territory. If it had been built along the Green Line (the internationally recognised border), then there would be no issue with it, but, because it takes in Palestinian territory, it has been declared to be illegal. Similarly, it does not matter how much water the Israeli farmers are extracting. What matters is that the water they are extracting is Palestinian water and the land they are farming is Palestinian land.
The occupation and the settlements are illegal under international law. They directly result in the Israelis living in a state of fear and Palestinians living in a state of human rights abuse. Christian Aid is right to draw attention to this situation, which will have to be addressed for there to be any chance of peace in the Holy Land.
Roger Morton, Albury, Surrey
Congratulations to Elena Curti for her two excellent articles documenting the injustices experienced by Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and bravo to The Tablet for having the courage to publish them.
I have made three visits to the West Bank in the past 10 years, organised by Pax Christi, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Zaytoun (a company marketing Palestinian produce in the UK – my wife & I promote the sale of Palestinian olive oil in our parish).
The oppressive effects of the Israeli occupation were all too evident on these visits. The checkpoints make life as difficult as possible for the Palestinians to get to work, to school or university or to hospital. The demolition of homes, the theft of land and water by the settlers, and the separation barrier add to their insecurity.
The argument that all this is essential for Israeli security is simply untenable. Haaretz journalist Danny Rubenstein has argued that “the wall serves no security purpose whatsoever, it has been and is being built to make life more comfortable for the settlements”. We saw how the Wall also divides families and communities, separates farmers from their land and confiscates large tracts of Palestinian land around the settlements.
It is ironic that whereas Jewish communities were so often confined in ghettoes throughout European history, Israelis are now enclosing themselves in a ghetto of their own making. What is required is a political discourse that promotes security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
(Dr) John Gilmurray, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire