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Holy Land Cleric Calls for Peace
    In his Christmas message, the top Catholic Church cleric in the Holy Land called on Israel and the Palestinians to end nearly three months of deadly violence.
    "There should be no more orders to kill," said Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah. "There should be no shooting at all, no shelling at all - this land should be a land of peace."
    Sabbah, a Palestinian, said the violence that has swept the West Bank and Gaza Strip has destroyed any chance of joyful celebrations this Christmas.
    Access to Bethlehem, Jesus' birthplace, is still tightly restricted, and the army has not yet announced whether the town will be a closed military zone during Christmas celebrations.
    "We appeal to the political leaders to lift this siege on the occasion of the feasts of Ramadan and Christmas, as they occur at the same time," Sabbah said. The end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is celebrated with a three-day festival that will overlap with Christmas.
    "If we want peace to come back to this Holy Land and to the whole region, this appeal must be listened to," he said.
   
AP
22-Dec-00