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Vatican cardinal condemns Israel security wall

Cardinal Roger Etchegaray has said the Israeli "security wall" that is being built through Palestinian territories "inevitably creates a geography of apartheid, which provokes rather than controls violence".

Cardinal Etchegaray, who has handled several delicate diplomatic assignments for the Holy See since resigning from his post as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, made his remarks in Jerusalem, during a short trip to the Holy Land.

He encouraged those "advancing down the long road toward peace with small gestures of reason and of pardon".

But he reported that during his trip, when he made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem to pray at the Basilica of the Nativity, he "saw the Palestinian settlements where Israeli authorities are building a 'security wall.'"

The wall cuts through Palestinian lands, separating neighbours and dividing communities. In some cases it cuts families from access to their own property. That project is "intolerable," he said, adding that he was joining many other religious leaders in condemning the Israeli plan.

The wall, Cardinal Etchegaray said, "lacerates the human fabric" of the community, "with grave consequences for the society, economy, education, and health." He argued that a more effective way to fight against terrorism would be to address the root cause of the conflict, and to undertake a realistic campaign to promote peaceful negotiations.

Vatican prelate condemns Israel's "security wall" (Catholic World News)

14 Nov 2003