Church welcomes UN vote for state of Palestine

The Catholic Church in the Vatican and in the Holy Land welcomed a United Nations vote on November 29 to accept Palestine as a non-member observer state.

But the Vatican called for the further steps of a sovereign independent homeland for the Palestinian people and an internationally guaranteed special statute for the city of Jerusalem.

The decision to give the state of Palestine non-member observer status at the UN — the same status as the Holy See — was carried by 138 votes to 9, with 41 abstentions.

“For once the international community and the leaders of the nations had the courage not to be influenced by the pressures and to decide in conscience, without calculation,” said the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal. “I am grateful and happy for this freedom.”

Expressing “joy that I share with all Palestinians”, Archbishop Twal said time would make it clear that the vote for the state of Palestine had advantages for Israel.

“It opens the possibility of returning to deal with a moderate and legitimised government,” he said.

“I know these people: there is no person more reasonable than Abu Mazen [the familiar Arabic name of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] to return to the path of a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Archbishop Twall said Abbas would return from New York as “a real president, the president of a state”.

In Bethlehem and other centres of the West Bank, church bells rang out after the vote was announced.

But in Israel the government rejected the decision. It immediately announced plans for 3000 new settlement homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — some of them in a crucial part of the hoped-for Palestinian state — and said it would withhold more than $NZ1.2 million of taxes and customs dues collected for the Palestinian Authority.


Vatican Radio

Catholic News Service


Associated Press

Image: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

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