INTERVENTION OF THE HOLY SEE
AT THE SECURITY COUNCIL OPEN DEBATE
SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION
H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
My Delegation congratulates you on this month's Argentinian Presidency of the
Security Council and commends your convening of this timely open debate on "The
situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question".
The Holy See has always followed the situation in the Middle East with great
interest and concern. It has always pleaded for negotiations and dialogue among
the parties involved. It has airways tried to do all it could to help the
victims of violence.
Given the rapidly deteriorating situation in the region during these last
months, Pope Francis has intensified his efforts to push for negotiations and
call all parties to respect the international humanitarian law and fundamental
human rights. During the first week of the current month, the Pope convoked in
the Vatican the Apostolic Nuncios (Papal Ambassadors) in the Middle East
countries, the Permanent Observers to international organizations and
high-ranking officials in the Vatican to discuss the Middle East situation.
Then, just yesterday, October 20, the Pope held a meeting with the Cardinals to
discuss the same issue. Following these meetings, the Holy See reiterates its
conviction that peace in the Middle East can only be sought through negotiated
settlements and not through unilateral choices imposed with the use of force.
1. As regards the Israeli-Palestinian question, the Holy See reiterates its
support for a twoState solution. Israeli and Palestine, with the vigorous
support of the competent organs of the United Nations and of the whole
international community, must work toward the final objective, which is the
realization of the right of the Palestinians to have their own State, sovereign
and independent, and of the right of the Israelis to peace and security. Pope
Francis also reaffirmed this during his visit to the Middle East last May: "The
time has come for everyone to find [...] the courage to forge a peace which
rests on the acknowledgment by all of the right of two States to exist and to
live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders."(1)
2. As regards the horrific situation in Syria, the Holy See urgently calls on
all parties to stop the massive violations of international humanitarian law and
fundamental human rights, and on the international community to help the parties
find a solution. There is no other way to alleviate and put an end to the untold
sufferings of the entire nation, where half of its population needs humanitarian
assistance and around a third has been displaced.
3. As regards Lebanon, the Holy See calls for international solidarity, at
this time that the country is gravely affected by the Syrian crisis and by the
massive presence of refugees, and exhorts Lebanon to find a solution as soon as
possible to the vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic. The Holy See
reaffirms its support for a sovereign and free Lebanon. Lebanon is a "message",
a "sign" full of hope for the coexistence of the various groups that form it.
4. As regards the grave violations and abuses committed by the so-called
"Islamic State" in Iraq and Syria, the competent organs of the United Nations
must act to prevent possible new genocides and to assist the increasing number
of refugees. The Holy See appeals in particular for the protection of the ethnic
and religious groups, including the Christian communities, who are specifically
targeted and victimized because of their ethnic origins and religious beliefs.
The Holy See insists on the respect of the right of these communities and all
the displaced persons to return to their homes and to live in dignity and
5. The Holy See hopes that the United Nations take the escalating, ruthless
phenomenon of international terrorism as an occasion to urgently re-enforce the
international juridical framework of a multilateral application of the
responsibility to protect people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing,
crimes against humanity and all forms of unjust aggression. With lessons learned
from our failure to stop recent horrors of genocide and presently confronted
with blatant, massive violations of fundamental human rights and of
international humanitarian law, the time is for courageous decisions.
6. Finally, the Holy See reiterates its call to all the religious leaders in
the region and everywhere in the world to play a leading role in promoting
interreligious and intercultural dialogue, in promptly denouncing every use of
religion to justify violence, and in educating all to reciprocal understanding
and mutual respect.
Madam President, I wish to end by citing a passage from the words of Pope
Francis during his meeting yesterday with the Cardinals: "This unfair situation
[in the Middle East] requires, other than and in addition to our constant
prayers, an adequate response by the international community."
Thank you, Madam President.
(1) Pope Francis, Meeting with Palestinian Authorities, Bethlehem 25 May 2014