April 5, 2002
Pax Christi USA Statement
For Immediate Release

End the Occupation:  End the Cycle of Destruction

The terrible situation in Israel/Palestine this week is a bitter testimony
to the utter failure of increased violence as a means to end violence.  Pax
Christi USA unequivocally condemns the recent suicide bombings by
Palestinians in Israel as well as the brutal escalation of violence against
civilians in the Occupied Territories being carried out by the Israeli
Defense Forces.  This cycle of violence must end.  Pax Christi USA stands in
solidarity with those on both sides of the conflict who have rejected the
destructive and fruitless cycle of violence that now engulfs that land.

In particular, we support the efforts of the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem,
Archbishop Michel Sabbah, President of Pax Christi International, and other
religious leaders in the Holy Land who have offered to mediate an end to the
standoff in Bethlehem.  We call upon the Israeli Defense Forces to allow
this delegation of religious leaders access to Bethlehem in order to
facilitate the evacuation of wounded civilians and negotiate a nonviolent
resolution to the siege of the Church of the Nativity.

Our prayers go with U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, as he travels to
the region this week.  We are, however, deeply troubled by the U.S. position
over the past 17 months that a cease-fire in the current conflict must
precede efforts at a political settlement.  Moreover we are concerned over
ongoing U.S. support for the Israeli occupation, support which sustains
Israel’s ability to, as Pope John Paul II pointed out this week, impose
“unjust conditions and humiliations” upon the more than 3 million
Palestinian people living under occupation.  It is clear that Israel has
engaged in widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure in the Occupied
Territories, subjected civilians to round-the-clock curfews, denied them
access to food, water and medical services and engaged in summary
executions.  All these are grave violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
U.S. financial aid and political support for Israeli activities in violation
of international law must end.  The U.S. will never be an effective force
for peace while it continues to support the forces of occupation.

The occupation is itself an ongoing and pervasive violence perpetrated
against all Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.
Secretary Powell’s efforts must include concrete U.S. commitments to end
support for the occupation and full implementation of United Nations’
Security Council Resolutions 242. 338 and 1402.  Pax Christi USA calls upon
the Administration and Congress to immediately restrict all U.S. military
aid to Israel from being used in the Occupied Territories.  The United
States cannot be a credible partner for peace while U.S. made weapons
continue to be turned upon Palestinian civilians.

Pax Christi USA affirms the call of Pope John Paul II for Sunday April 7th
to be a Day of Prayer for Peace in the Middle East and urges all our
members, supporters and friends to participate in a Chain of Prayer and
Light from April 8-15 as called for by Pax Christi International.
 

Pax Christi USA is the national Catholic peace movement.  Its 14,000 members
work for the transformation of society through nonviolence and advocates
peacemaking as a priority in the Catholic Church in the United States.  The
movement, headquartered in Erie, Pa., publishes peace education literature
and develops ministry programs that promote justice for the sake of creating
a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.  Peace Christi USA is a section
of Pax Christi International, which is active in more than 30 countries.

Pax Christi USA, 532 W. 8th St., Erie, PA 16502 (814-453-4955;
info@paxchristiusa.org; www.paxchristiusa.org)