06 July 2016, The Tablet

Holy See: Peace process in Israel and Palestine is the responsibility of believers

The Holy See has historically favoured a two-State solution in the Middle East

A two-state solution, negotiated by Israel and Palestine with the support of the international community, is the only way to peace, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to United Nations, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, said during the UN International Conference in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

The Holy See has historically favoured the two-state solution, Archbishop Jurkovic explained, quoting the words of Pope Benedict XVI who said, during his visit to the Holy Land in 2009, “let the two-state solution become a reality, not remain a dream”.

Pope Francis, added Jurkovic, reiterated the same principle in Bethlehem in 2014, saying that the right of the two states to live alongside each other with internationally recognised borders should be accepted by all nations.

The peace process does not depend entirely on formal negotiations, noted Archbishop Jurkovic. It is the duty and common call of religions and believers to work towards peace.

“Religions and believers, in particular, must prove themselves worthy of their rightful place in the whole process of pacification in the region,” he said.

The Archbishop emphasised that religious leaders must be ready to counter religious fervour and the manipulation of religion to justify acts of violence, countering it with authentic religious instruction.

“The Holy See reiterates its appeal to all religious leaders to denounce and reject every spurious form and perversion of religion to foment violence, and to hold on to the conviction that peace is not only possible and desirable, but is our common call and duty,” he said.

The United Nations and its diplomatic partners in the Middle East peace process released a report on 1 July analysing the impediments to a lasting resolution to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict and offered recommendations on the way forward, urging Israel to stop its settlement policy and Palestine to end incitement to violence.

The so-called ‘Middle East Quartet’ – comprising the UN, Russia, the United States and the European Union – has been working on the report since February of this year.

In it, they call on each side to “independently demonstrate, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution” and to “refrain from unilateral steps that prejudice the outcome of the final negotiations”.

Prior to the report’s release, experienced peace negotiators, and international experts from Israel and Palestine, as well as from the United Nations, civil society and academics, gathered in Geneva for the UN International Conference in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace. The conference encouraged the discussion of new ideas for a lasting solution to the conflict.

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