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Australian bishop urges international intervention in the Holy Land

The acting chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has backed UN calls for international intervention in the Holy Land.

In a statement issued on Friday, Bishop William Morris said: "The purpose of such an international presence, either in the form of UN-sponsored monitors or peacekeepers, would be to reduce violence, to restore respect for human rights, and to work towards the creation of conditions in which negotiations could be resumed."

Calls for international intervention have come from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for an international presence to prevent greater tragedy in the Holy Land.

Condemning both acts of terrorism and the use of state violence agains civilians, Bishop Morris said: "We are appalled at the suicide bombings and the massive military retaliation to them. We are deeply saddened by the acts of violence recently directed at sacred symbols and places in the Holy Land, including the celebration of the Jewish Passover and the City of Bethlehem."

Extending the Council's condolences to victims and their families, Bishop Morris echoed the observation of the Holy Father in his Easter Message: "Nothing is resolved by war, it only brings greater suffering and death, nothing is resolved through reprisal and retaliation."

Meanwhile Bishop Issam Darwich of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand issued a statement of concern, stating that the Melkike Eparchy "can not remain silent in the face of what is fast developing into a catastrophe for all those involved in the present conflict".

Bishop Darwich urged an unconditional halt to all hostilities, and the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from Palestinian Territories. He also called for the Israeli Government to recognise and respect "the sacred Character of the Christian and Muslim places of worship", and for the Palestinian People "to be witnesses to the invincible power of non-violence".

Melike Catholic Church of Australia and New Zealand

ACSJC/Melkite Eparchy

8 Apr 2002