UNITED NATIONS – To build a lasting peace in the Holy Land, the Vatican’s nuncio to the United Nations urged the international community to facilitate significant negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Only with a just and lasting peace – not imposed but secured through negotiation and reasonable compromise – will the legitimate aspirations of all the peoples of the Holy Land be fulfilled,” Archbishop Celestino Migliore told the U.N. Special Political and Decolonization Committee Nov 2.

The archbishop told the committee that resolving the conflict in the Holy Land is “key to resolving so many of the situations that bring chaos to the region of the Middle East and which have serious worldwide implications”.

He said there has been a failure of the conflicting parties to “engage in significant and substantive dialogue ... in order to bring stability and peace to the Holy Land”.

The archbishop said it is imperative for the international community to help broker negotiations, while at the same time maintaining a balanced approach and avoiding preconditions on either side.

He said the lasting solution must also include the status of Jerusalem, which Israelis and Palestinians view as their capital.

Because of “numerous incidents of violence and challenges to free movement posed by the security wall, the Holy See renews its support for internationally guaranteed provisions” that would ensure freedom of religion and unhindered access by all – no matter their religion or nationality – to the holy places, Archbishop Migliore said.

Israeli’s security wall is a series of barbed wire fences, security roads and cement slabs which, when completed, would stretch more than 400 miles and restrict the movements of 38 percent of residents of the West Bank. According to the U.N., Israel has completed 256 miles.

The archbishop also raised concern for the “tragedies and difficulties currently endured by the refugees” in the Holy Land.

He said the Vatican was grateful for the service of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, but the agency was created as a temporary body and “now, six decades later (its) very existence is a reminder that the question of Palestine refugees remains unresolved”.

“Working with its worldwide donors and collaborators, the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, also founded as a temporary agency in 1949, currently provides education, health services, relief, social services and employment programs to Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank and Gaza” along with the U.N. relief agency, he added.

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