Pope is not alone in desire for peace, Israel envoy says

In response to New Year’s speech, Ambassador David reaffirms Jewish state’s position.

Pope Francis talks to diplomats during the traditional exchange of the New Year greetings in the Regal Room at the Vatican (photo credit: REUTERS)
Pope Francis talks to diplomats during the traditional exchange of the New Year greetings in the Regal Room at the Vatican
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A day after the pope delivered his New Year’s address to the Vatican’s foreign envoys, Israel’s ambassador said there is no disagreement on the Jewish State’s part regarding bringing peace to the world. 
“I’d just like to avail myself of this opportunity to reaffirm that Israel wants peace as much as His Holiness wants it, peace for its citizens and peace for its neighbors,” Ambassador Oren David told the Crux Now website in an interview on Wednesday.
In his speech to the diplomatic corps in the Apostolic Palace on Monday, Pope Francis said that the desire for dialogue is absolutely necessary in the Middle East,
“I think in particular of Israelis and Palestinians, in the wake of the tensions of recent weeks,” he said. “The Holy See, while expressing sorrow for the loss of life in recent clashes, renews its pressing appeal that every initiative be carefully weighed so as to avoid exacerbating hostilities, and calls for a common commitment to respect, in conformity with the relevant United Nations Resolutions, the status quo of Jerusalem, a city sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.
“Seventy years of confrontation make more urgent than ever the need for a political solution that allows the presence in the region of two independent states within internationally recognized borders. Despite the difficulties, a willingness to engage in dialogue and to resume negotiations remains the clearest way to achieving at last a peaceful coexistence between the two peoples.”
David, the ambassador in the Holy See since September 2016, said that the pontiff’s comments on Israel were simply a confirmation of the Holy See’s long-standing concerns and that Israel also joined the pope’s call for dialogue and the resumption of negotiations.
In December, the pope came out against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel saying that it would inflame the region in violence.
He said he hopes that “wisdom and prudence prevail, in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to a global panorama that is already convulsed and marked by so many and cruel conflicts.”
The longstanding policy on Jerusalem was reiterated in 2012 when the Vatican said it desired an “internationally guaranteed special statute" for Jerusalem that would safeguard “the freedom of religion and of conscience, the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem as a Holy City, [and] respect for, and freedom of access to its holy places.”
Ambassador David reminded his interviewer at Crux Now that “Israel guarantees, and we’ve always guaranteed, freedom of access and worship in the holy sites to all believers equally.” On the contrary, when Jordan had occupied the eastern portion of Jerusalem from 1949-1967, despite there being a treaty in effect, the Hashemite Kingdom destroyed the city’s Jewish Quarter, along with many places of Jewish worship and holy sites to the Jewish people, while refusing to grant access to Jews to the remaining holy sites. 
But David agreed, that Francis’s call to renew dialogue – not just in Israel, but in all troubled regions  – has a significant effect on all citizens of the world. 
“The pope is a messenger of peace, and his voice is heard throughout the world,” he said. “We join him in his attempts to spread peace, dialogue, tolerance and mutual respect.”