J'lem Latin patriarch favors one-state solution

In Vatican City meeting, Fouad Twal calls for an end to the occupation, with one, bi-national state if peace talks fail.

fouad twal 311 (photo credit: AP)
fouad twal 311
(photo credit: AP)
VATICAN CITY – Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal on Friday called for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, calling it “an evil for both Palestinians and Israelis.”
Twal spoke during a meeting with Vatican correspondents.
Alluding to IDF checkpoints he said, “All I am asking of Israeli leaders is that they enable people in the West Bank to lead a normal life... to go to work or to the airport normally, to visit the Holy Places normally, since Bethlehem cannot be separated from Jerusalem...”
Recognizing that Arab Christians are emigrating from the territories (but not Israel proper), that prospects for economic and social advancement for the poorer sections of Palestinian society are bleak (while “the richer segments invest privately”) and that Israel offers more opportunities for its Arab citizens than do the territories for Palestinians there, Twal pointed to the need to finalize “a two-state solution.”
“But if this is not possible,” he continued, “I am ready to settle for one single democratic state with a right for Palestinians to vote; we would then see whether or not this would be a greater challenge to Israel than two states.”
He recalled “seeing tears in President [Shimon] Peres’s eyes during Benedict XVI’s farewell speech at the Tel Aviv airport at the conclusion of his recent visit [in May 2009], when the pope said that as a friend of both Israelis and Palestinians, what saddened him most was the wall of separation.”
During the first week of the synod, which will end on October 24, the 250 bishops have largely concentrated on the need for ecumenism, to overcome splits between different Catholic orders and different Christian churches, and to meet the challenge of dialogue with Islam in a united manner to avoid radicalizing confrontations.
Less attention has been paid so far to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, officially defined as “political,” but this is bound to change following the patriarch’s appeal to the media and a forthcoming presentation by former patriarch Michel Sabbah and others of the Kairos document on the “occupation,” signed by several of the region’s Protestant church leaders and the Franciscan custodian of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
This will take place on Tuesday, in a Vatican-owned facility outside the Synod Hall walls.