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Holy Land church commission calls Palestinian situation ‘inhuman’

A Palestinian man lifts his arms before he is searched by Israeli border police near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City Feb. 16.  (CNS photo/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

A Palestinian man lifts his arms before he is searched by Israeli border police near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City Feb. 16. (CNS photo/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

By Judith Sudilovsky

JERUSALEM (CNS) — The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to work for a change in the current violent situation, but it chastised Israel as responsible for its creation.

“The present situation for the Palestinians is inhuman,” it said in its statement released to the press Feb. 18. “It is settlers who occupy, day by day, Palestinian land. It is the siege of Gaza for years already . . . It is also a siege for the rest of Palestine and diverse hardships, political, economical and social.”

Calling the situation in the Holy Land “stagnant and lifeless” with no “light of hope” either for the Israelis or Palestinians, it said Israelis need “security and tranquility” while Palestinians are waiting for an end to occupation and for an independent state.

But the situation has become one of an intifada, it said. Palestinians who carry out stabbings and other violent acts against Israelis “plunge to their death out of despair caused by a life full of frustration, humiliation and insecurity, with no hope at all,” it added.

“Is Israeli society satisfied with this situation? Is it satisfied with this life in the shadow of continuing hostility with the Palestinian people?” it asked.

Enumerating a list of hardships and humiliations — including home demolitions, military checkpoints, the “Judaization” of Jerusalem by “sending away” its Palestinian residents, and accusations of terrorism against all Palestinians and the collective punishments that includes — it called on Israeli leaders to “enlarge your vision and hearts.”

“Change the situation. Shake it out of its mobility. There is enough space in the land for all of us,” it said. “Let all have the same dignity and equality. No occupation and no discrimination. Two peoples living together and loving each other according to the way they choose.”

Such an inhuman situation cannot be one which either the Israelis or Palestinians would choose, it said. It urged Israelis to see Palestinians not as terrorists but as people who want to live normal lives but find themselves “oppressed, frustrated and deprived of the freedom God has given them.”

“We say to the leaders: Act for the sake of the human being, the Israeli and the Palestinian. Do not leave the situation as it is, because it is a situation that leads to death,” it said.

The commission called on the Palestinian leadership to speak out in a voice for “peace and justice for two peoples.”

“Redeem the land again and begin a new history. Redeem Jerusalem again, and begin a new history that conforms with its holiness and universality. Stop every self-interested vision and all corruption,” it said.

Once again it emphasized the important role education plays and called for the re-education of the younger generation, which has grown up in an atmosphere where Palestinians are viewed as terrorists and Israelis as the enemy.

“Let us begin, all of us, a new history,” it said. “Our land is holy, and the place of our daily living together. Let the two peoples live in peace.”

Copyright ©2016 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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