Vatican Calls for ‘Courageous’ U.N. Decision on Palestine

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Addressing the United Nations, a Vatican representative called for “courageous decisions” toward the two-state solution for the Holy Land after Palestinian leaders requested full U.N. membership for the Palestinian state.

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s top foreign affairs official, did not say whether the Vatican explicitly supported the Palestinians’ U.N. initiative. But he said the Vatican viewed the Palestinian bid “in the perspective of efforts to find a definitive solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian question — an issue addressed by a U.N. resolution of 1947 that foresaw the creation of two states.

“One of them has already been created, while the other has not yet been established, although nearly 64 years have passed. The Holy See is convinced that if we want peace, it is necessary to adopt courageous decisions,” he said Sept. 27.

The archbishop called on the United Nations to work with determination to achieve “the final objective, which is the realization of the right of Palestinians to have their own independent and sovereign state and the right of Israelis to security, with both states provided with internationally recognized borders.”

He said the response of the United Nations to the Palestinian proposal would not resolve the long-standing conflict, which must be settled through good-faith negotiations. He urged the international community to adopt creative initiatives to promote a new round of peace talks.

Archbishop Mamberti’s speech to the General Assembly was far-ranging, touching on a number of international issues:

  — He urged an increase in international humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa, where drought and famine have provoked the exodus of millions of people, most of them women and children.

  — He said the world community has a responsibility to intervene in places of humanitarian suffering when individual states are unable to manage the crisis or where there are serious human rights violations.

But he said there was a risk that such situations might be used as a “convenient” pretext for military intervention, which must always be a last resort after all diplomatic efforts have been exhausted.

“It is worth repeating that even the use of force that complies with U.N. principles must be a solution limited in time, a measure of real urgency that is accompanied and followed by a concrete commitment to peace,” he said. He did not mention specific countries.

  — The archbishop appealed for protection of religious minorities, stating that in today’s world “Christians are the religious group that suffers the greatest persecution because of their faith.” He said intolerance and discrimination on account of religion were increasing. Even in countries that theoretically protect religious freedom, there is a tendency to marginalize religion and its contribution to social life, he said.

  — Reiterating what Pope Benedict XVI has said in recent months, Archbishop Mamberti told the United Nations that the current global financial crisis stemmed in part from a “deficit of ethics” in the modern economic system. The economy cannot function solely according to the laws of the market or the interests of the powerful, he said. He called for “a new global model of development” that is able to diminish poverty, relieve the suffering of the weakest and better protect the environment.

  — The archbishop said the arms industry continues to consume the resources of many countries, with a series of negative repercussions, including reduced human development, increased risk of conflict and instability, and promotion of a culture of violence that is often linked to criminal activities like the drug trade, human trafficking and piracy.

He said the Vatican supports U.N. efforts to reach a new and effective treaty governing the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.

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