BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES

November 2000 Meeting
Received by Al-Bushra on November 26

STATEMENT ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SUSTAINING

THE MOMENTUM OF THE PEACE PROCESS IN THE HOLY LAND


 


The Bishops’ Conference:

·        expresses its sadness at the recent violence in the Holy Land and the grievous suffering that has been caused by this and requests renewed prayers for a just peace.   Many hopes appear to have been dashed by the violence: especially those of a negotiated settlement that would guarantee the fundamental rights of all the peoples of the region to live in justice, dignity and security, and so allow members of two peoples and three faiths to live side by side in reciprocal respect;
 

        ·        recognises that every death by violence is a tragedy, and in many cases a crime.  But it is also important to notice that             there is a gross disparity between the numbers of those killed and wounded on each side;
 

·        echoes some powerful recent words of the Holy Father, who wrote, “Only a return to the negotiating table on an equal footing, with due respect for international law, is capable of disclosing a future of brotherhood and peace for those who live in this blessed land”.  One implication of this expression of the Holy Father deserves particular attention - that negotiations between a strong party and a weaker one can only succeed in bringing justice given the vigilant support of the international community, especially where international law is at stake.  The Bishops’ Conference therefore urges Her Majesty’s Government and the European Union to offer the necessary support for the negotiations;
 

·        is fully conscious of the constraints on the main political leaders involved, who each have to take account of factions seemingly bent on further and systematic violence; and encourages them to continue with courage in the search for peace; since the more massive the present violence, the greater must be the paralyzing fear of subsequent bitterness and vengeance;
 

·        states its concern at the continued attempts of the Government of Israel to expand and build settlements, so creating new ‘facts on the ground’ at this highly critical stage of the peace process;
 

·        expresses the prayerful hope that the momentum of the last few years, towards a peaceful and just co-existence, will not be reversed by the current violent conflict