Corrections needed to this text  below although we did not touch the original text:

1) Michel Sabbah is more than Archbishop he is the Latin PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM

2) Gilo is not just "a neighbouring Jewish suburb of Jerusalem. Gilo is built on land annexed by Israel following the 1967 Middle East war.", It is Jewish settlement built by Israel despite of the International CONDAMNATION and the UN RESOLUTION of the ILLEGALITY of the SETTLEMTS build on Land usurped by the Israeli Occupation Army

Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
30 October 2000
 
 

Latin Patriarch tells Israeli soldiers to stop attacking Christian village

ENI-00-0404

By Ross Dunn
Jerusalem, 30 October (ENI)--The Latin Patriarch in the Holy
Land has called on Israel to stop its troops firing at an Arab
Christian village and to surrender all occupied land to the
Palestinians.

Archbishop Michel Sabbah, the highest-ranking Catholic official
in Jerusalem, made the appeal during a tour of Beit Jalla, near
Bethlehem on the West Bank.

Beit Jalla has been subject to Israeli tank fire since
Palestinian gunmen began using the village as a base to fire at
Gilo, a neighbouring Jewish suburb of Jerusalem. Gilo is built on
land annexed by Israel following the 1967 Middle East war.

Archbishop Sabbah said that Israel must not react by increasing
levels of firepower.

The patriarch was accompanied by Beit Jalla's mayor, Raji
Zeidan, who said the Palestinian Authority was working to
restrain gunmen from using his village to fire at Gilo.

Zeidan also criticised Israel for using heavy fire against Beit
Jalla, saying it was making victims of residents who took no part
in the violence. "No shots came from the houses that were bombed
[by Israel]," he said. "There are other ways to deal with that
matter."

About 130 people, most of them Palestinians, have died in
violent clashes with Israeli security forces that began on 28
September. Israeli officials claim that the Palestinians fired
from Beit Jalla hoping that Israeli tanks, returning fire, would
damage a church in the village, thereby igniting the wrath of the
Christian world, including the Vatican.

But Archbishop Sabbah, the first Palestinian to serve as Latin
Patriarch of Jerusalem, said it was Israel that must ease
tensions by giving up territory to the Palestinians. "This is the
only salvation, also for Israel itself to convert all of its
neighbours to friends," he said. "As along as they have enemies,
they will be afraid, they will have no security."

He said Israel must end its military occupation of the West
Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, the areas captured by Israel
during the 1967 war.

The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has claimed that all of the
territories are necessary for the founding of an independent
Palestinian state.

Archbishop Sabbah urged both sides to return to the negotiating
table.

Peace talks have stalled since the peace summit at Camp David in
the United States in July between Chairman Arafat and Israeli
Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, failed to produce an agreement. The
two leaders met again in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm
el-Sheikh, again under the patronage of US President Bill
Clinton, whose dream of brokering a comprehensive peace in the
Middle East during his last months in office has now been
shattered.

Archbishop Sabbah denied claims that the violence was pitting
Palestinian Christians against the much larger majority of
Palestinian Muslims.

Two weeks ago, several hundred Palestinians, led by Islamic
militants, set fire to a hotel and some Christian-run stores in
the Gaza Strip, saying it was a violation of Muslim law to sell
alcohol. Archbishop Sabbah said that the mob was condemned even
by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of Hamas, the Islamic
Resistance Movement.

Christian leaders have also angrily denied reports claiming that
hundreds of Christian Arab families have been fleeing the region
with the assistance of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and various
embassies.

Father Raed Abushalia, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate in
Jerusalem, dismissed the claims as a "fabrication * The Arab
Christian community in the Palestinian territories is an integral
part of the Palestinian people," he said. "It suffers with it,
rejoices with it, [shares] the same hopes and aspirations ...
these recent Israeli rumours about getting the town of Beit Jalla
involved in the recent clashes is not a coincidence, but [part of
the] aim to 'divide and rule' among one Palestinian people." [640
words]

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