Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move -
90, December 2002, p.
Intervention by H.E. Msgr.
Renato R. MARTINO
before the Special Political and Decolonization Committee
the 57th General Assembly of the United Nations
U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
After reading the Report
of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for
Palestine Refugees in the Near East, my Delegation once again voices its
praise and appreciation for the work of the Agency. This Delegation also
offers words of condolence for those members of the UNRWA staff killed or
injured in carrying out their duties.
My Delegation notes that
previous speakers have clearly identified many of the critical issues
festering in the region served by UNRWA. They have spoken about settlements,
curfews, closures, assassinations, suicide bombers as well as the effects upon
the Palestinian people regarding employment, education and access to medical
Pontifical Mission for Palestine
The Holy See understands
precisely how the current situation has impacted the lives of so many with
such adversity. The Pontifical Mission for Palestine and its numerous
collaborators worldwide report daily on the trials of those people served.
The work of the
Pontifical Mission for Palestine relies heavily on its collaborators, in order
to provide financial support for its work among the Palestinian people,
especially those living in refugee camps. The annual budget of US$
10,720,203.00 has been supported by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association
(U.S.A), Mercy Corps International (U.S.A), Kinderhilfe Bethlehem
(Switzerland), Fundación Social de la Cultura (Spain), Bischofliches
Hilfswerk Misereor (Germany), the Archdiocese of Cologne (Germany) and the
Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (Worldwide). These funds
are used for the labour intensive programme, basically for the employment of
Palestinians working on municipal projects; village restoration; pre-school
through university educational programmes and the various health projects and
clinics often forced to deal with the injuries sustained as a result of
violence and armed conflict.
Papal appeal for end of violence, negotiations between parties
Pope John Paul II, in
message of Sunday, 11 August 2002,
spoke of the futility of violence as a solution to the fundamental
"When will it be
understood that the coexistence of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples cannot
be brought about by arms? For it is neither attacks, nor walls that separate,
nor even retaliation that will ever lead to a just solution of the continuing
conflict.... From 1967 till today, unspeakable sufferings have followed one
upon another in a frightening manner: the suffering of the
Palestinians, driven out of their land and forced, in recent times,
into a state of permanent siege, becoming as it were the object of a
collective punishment; the suffering of the Israeli population, who
live in the daily terror of being targets of anonymous assailants.... Faced
with this humanitarian tragedy, which does not seem to show any signs of hope,
no one can remain indifferent.
That is why, once again, I appeal to the Israeli and Palestinian political
leadership to set out anew on the path of sincere negotiation. I ask
the international community to work with greater resolve in being present in the area, offering its mediation in
order to create the conditions for a fruitful dialogue that will speed the
process towards peace" (Angelus
11 August 2002: ORE,
21 August 2002, p. 12).
My Delegation proposes
that the international community must assist the Palestinians and the Israelis
to realize that the fundamental injustice causing the continuous unending
spiral of retaliations must come to an end. Also, the findings of the Mitchell
Report, of 6 May 2001, clearly identified the occupation of Palestinian lands
by Israel as the root cause of the sufferings which plague both Israelis and
Palestinians. It is incumbent upon both parties assisted by the international
community to set out anew on the path of sincere negotiation so that this
issue is properly addressed and accords of resolution produced. The massive
application of violence has failed and failed miserably. It has increased the
sufferings of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Voice of Yitzak Rabin
My Delegation wishes to
take this opportunity to recall that in another time in the region there was a
voice for fundamental reconciliation and peace. Speaking on the occasion of
the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles, the late
Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, stated:
"Let me say to you,
the Palestinians: We are destined to live together, on the same soil in the
same land. We the soldiers who have returned from battle stained with blood,
we who have seen our relatives and friends killed before our eyes, we who have
attended their funerals and cannot look into the eyes of their parents, we who
have come from a land where parents bury their children, we who have fought
against you, the Palestinians we say to you today in a loud and clear voice:
Enough of blood and tears. Enough" (13 September 1993).
Has the bullet which
ended his life also ended the vision he saw of reconciliation and peace?
Holy City of Jerusalem
Beyond addressing the
root issues which have for over two years led to an unending cycle of
violence, it is the hope of my Delegation that any solution found for the
multifaceted problems of the region will include the Holy City of Jerusalem.
The Holy See renews its consistent call for internationally guaranteed
provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and conscience of its
inhabitants, in order to safeguard the special character of the City and of
the sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Current levels of violence
have caused pilgrims to stay away from the Holy Land thus imposing severe
economic penalties on all the people of the region.
The Holy See appeals for
greater international solidarity and the political will to eliminate the root
cause of the reprehensible violence affecting the people of the region
especially the civilian population and children who should be exempt from such
Thank you, Mr Chairman.