Vatican renews call for peace, negotiated solution on Jerusalem

IMAGE: CNS photo/Debbie Hill

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Following days of violence and
backlash after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as
the capital of Israel, the Vatican appealed for “wisdom and prudence”
to prevail.

The Holy See “reiterates its own conviction that only a
negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians can bring a stable and
lasting peace and guarantee the peaceful coexistence of two states within internationally
recognized borders,” the Vatican said in a Dec. 10 statement.

President Trump announced his decision Dec. 6 to move the
U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, fulfilling a promise he made during
his presidential campaign.

The announcement sparked anti-U.S. protests throughout Asia and the
Middle East, including a four-day protest in the Palestinian territories,
Reuters reported. An Israeli security guard in Jerusalem, the report said, was
in critical condition after he was stabbed by a Palestinian man at the city’s
bus station.

Pope Francis expressed his “sorrow for the clashes in
recent days” and called for world leaders to renew their commitment for
peace in the Holy Land, the Vatican said.

The pope “raises fervent prayers so that the leaders of
nations, in this time of special gravity, commit themselves to avert a new
spiral of violence, responding with words and deeds to the desires of peace,
justice and security for the populations of that battered land,” the Vatican

Trump’s decision also drew warnings from Middle Eastern and
European leaders that overturning the United States’ long-standing policy would
further complicate peace negotiations.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had made similar
promises to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital during their presidential
campaigns. However, once in office, they did not carry through with the move,
citing its potential negative impact on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The Arab
League, a regional organization consisting of 22 Arabic-speaking member states, held an
emergency meeting in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 9 to discuss Trump’s announcement, calling it
“dangerous and unacceptable.”

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital goes “against
international law and raises questions over American efforts to support peace,”
said Ahmed Aboul Gheit,
the Arab League’s secretary-general.

hours before Trump had announced his decision, Pope Francis urged
respect for “the status quo of the city in accordance with the relevant
resolutions of the United Nations.”

In his appeal, Pope Francis said, “Jerusalem is a
unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims who venerate the holy
places of their respective religions, and has a special vocation to

The Vatican consistently has called for a special status for Jerusalem,
particularly its Old City, in order to protect and guarantee access to the holy
sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

“The Holy See is attentive to these concerns and,
recalling the heartfelt words of Pope Francis, reiterates its well-known
position concerning the singular character of the Holy City and the essential
need for respecting the status quo, in conformity with the deliberations of the
international community and the repeated requests of the hierarchies of the churches
and Christian communities of the Holy Land,” said the Vatican’s Dec. 10 statement.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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