CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Mideast leaders fight Trump on Jerusalem

AMMAN (CNS): “The two-state solution is accepted by all the world, including the Vatican. It corresponds to the legitimate resolutions passed by the United Nations,” Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of Jerusalem, patriarchal vicar for Jordan, said as Church and political leaders in the Middle East intensified efforts to combat the unilateral decision by the president of the United States (US), Donald Trump, to recogonise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital along with plans to move the US embassy there.
 
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said, “Nothing should prevent Jerusalem from being a national symbol for the two peoples.” He pointed out that, “Any unilateral decision is not a solution.” 
 
Archbishop Pizzaballa said, “Jerusalem cannot be reduced to a dispute. It is something much more than that.”
 
In his annual address to ambassadors to the Holy See on January 8, Pope Francis urged countries to respect the status quo of Jerusalem (Sunday Examiner, January 14).
 
He reiterated the Church’s call “for a common commitment to respect, in conformity with the relevant United Nations resolutions, the status quo of Jerusalem, a city sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.”
 
Pope Francis also urged a two-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis.
 
“The pope emphasised that Jerusalem must be respected for all three religions,” Father Rifat Bader of the Catholic Centre for Media and Studies in Amman said. 
 
“That respect must be made not just in political affairs, but religious matters,” he said.
 
Father Bader said that, shortly after Trump’s 6 December 2017 declaration, “Jordan’s King Abdullah II met with the pope with great emotion, focussing on the status quo of Jerusalem, how international decisions need to be respected, and how to maintain the custodianship of Jordan’s Hashemite monarchy over the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.”
 
Later, Christian and Muslim leaders from Jordan and the Palestinian territories met at the Baptismal Site on the Jordan River and agreed to fight the decision.
 
“They all agreed to support the king and his diplomatic efforts calling for justice for Jerusalem as well as recognising the king’s Hashemite custodianship over the Muslim and Christian holy sites there,” Father Bader said.
 
Jordan’s king is recognised as the custodian of Muslim and Christian sacred places under a 1994 peace treaty signed with Israel.
 
“Jerusalem is very important for us as Jordanians. Jordan’s Hashemite kings have supported restorations in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, while King Abdullah II also aided the restoration of the Holy Sepulchre Church (with) his own money. This Hashemite custodianship is not rhetorical, but realised by real support, including finances, for Jerusalem, which is also the future capital of Palestine,” Father Bader said.
 
“A lot of friends around the world, 128 countries, opposed the decision by the US president,” meaning “that Jordan and Palestine are not alone,” he added.
 
“Arab countries have to coordinate more to address this very important moment in history. Jordan is president of the Arab League right now,” Father Bader said.
 
The Arab League is lobbying the international community to recognise a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, following a January 6 meeting of Arab foreign ministers and the league’s secretary-general in Amman.
 
“We will confront the (US) decision by seeking a resolution, an international one, to recognise a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital,” Jordanian foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, told reporters after the talks.
 
The US vice president, Mike Pence is scheduled to visit Israel, Egypt and Jordan from January 19 to 23, embarking on a tour originally slated for December. After Trump’s declaration , senior  Palestinian officials cancelled planned meetings with him.
 

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