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Book renews controversy on April siege in Bethlehem

The chief spokesman for the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land believes that the dramatic standoff that took place at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity in April could have been ended in a matter of hours if Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had shown the desire for a speedy resolution.

Fr David Jaeger, OFM was speaking in Rome at a media conference introducing a new book on the crisis in Bethlehem. The book, titled Siege of the Nativity, is the work of Italian journalists who covered the April events.

Journalists challenged the accuracy of the book and the reports submitted during the siege by the Franciscan friars trapped inside the basilica. Fr Jaeger maintained the book is "an act of respect for historical truth".

"The situation could have been honourably and peacefully resolved in the first few days, if the two parties had been ready to accept proposals that called for only tiny, inconsequential compromises on both sides," the Franciscan spokesman reported. And yet the confrontation dragged on, he said, until "precise orders were sent to both parties from the White House."

Catholic World News

Violence flares at Church of Nativity standoff (3/5/02)
Survivor's tale of the siege of Bethlehem ( 20/4/02)
Church with a turbulent history (BBC)

29 Oct 2002