Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino Migliore
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy
62nd session of the UN General Assembly
Before the Fourth Committee, on item 32:
United Nations Relief and works Agency for
Palestine Refugees in the Near East
New York, 8 November 2007
My delegation thanks the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and
Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for this report, and
commends her and her staff for their work, in spite of the continued violence
and military activity in the area in which they operate.
The seemingly endless list of difficulties and differences separating Israelis
and Palestinians can lead us to ignore the underlying fundamental questions
which have plagued this region for far too long, such as the lack of persistent
political will to reach a permanent solution.
At the heart of the matter remains the problem of injustice. To postpone
endlessly the resolution of this conflict by a refusal to negotiate and to
compromise reasonably, by indecision or by a willingness to maintain the status
quo, is to perpetuate injustice. Whether such a mindset is deliberate or not
does not alter the reality on the ground, namely, innocent people and entire
families on all sides continue to suffer terribly and infrastructures are
destroyed even before they are ready for use.
The centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the continuing instability
in the Middle East and its impact on the whole international community cannot be
ignored. Solving it will greatly contribute to ending other questions in the
region and to greater understanding among the peoples of the world.
In this regard, my delegation remains convinced that the two-state solution has
the best chance to settle the crisis. Bringing this solution to reality is not
the primary responsibility of the Quartet, but of the parties directly concerned
and the neighbouring countries who have immediate interests in the whole
question. While the international community can only do so much in providing all
the support needed to bring together those in conflict, it is indispensable that
the parties must set aside the pretense of peacemaking and start full
negotiations on the two-state solution. My delegation earnestly hopes that the
international conference planned for the end of this month may move the peace
process towards this end, towards the definition of a realistic accord that the
parties will be determined to implement.
We all know that this is much easier said than done. The accumulated acts of
injustice and violence across decades have resulted in deeply rooted
recriminations and rage among peoples in the area, fueling the vicious cycle of
violent retaliations. In a state of constant alarm and permanent anguish,
peoples resort to forming communities in mutual isolation. This state of things
makes a lasting solution much more difficult to find, because it is antithetical
to building relationships and mutual trust which are necessary in any peace
process and peaceful coexistence.
My delegation encourages groups within both the Israeli and Palestinian civil
societies which, sharing the same loss and fear, reach out to one another to
offer and receive forgiveness and reconciliation. We appeal not only to
authorities, but to the entire Israeli, Palestinian and neighbouring peoples, to
consider how much this disposition of mutual empathy can bridge their otherwise
mutually exclusive and contradictory claims which have so far prevented talks to
come to fruition. Let us learn from peoples who have succeeded in putting an end
to their strife. Patient dialogue, persevering trust, the overcoming of
religious and cultural prejudices, and a manifest desire of entire communities
for peace have brought the restoration of harmony in many countries previously
devastated by hatred and violence. For this reason, my delegation remains
convinced that the different religious confessions in the Holy Land can make a
significant contribution to resolving the conflict.
Finally, in the hope that the many problems of the region will at last be
resolved by negotiation and dialogue, my delegation further underlines that a
lasting solution must include the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem. In light
of the numerous incidents of violence and challenges to free movement posed by
the Security Wall, the Holy See renews its support for internationally
guaranteed provisions to ensure the City of Jerusalem the freedom of religion and of conscience of its
inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places
by the faithful of all religions and nationalities (A/RES/ES-10/2).
Thank you, Mr Chairman.