Latin Patriarch calls for Israel-Hamas dialogue

Israel should initiate diplomatic relations with Hamas without preconditions, said Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah during his Easter message Tuesday. "Dialogue is the only way to go if Israel wants peace and security and wants to put an end to the never-ending tragedy of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples," said Sabbah during a question-and-answer session with reporters after his speech. The most senior Roman Catholic clergyman in the Holy Land also criticized Israel, the US and Europe for withholding financial support to the Palestinian Authority since the Hamas victory in local elections. "Boycotting the Palestinian Authority is unacceptable," said Sabbah. "It causes the suffering of innocent Palestinians." He blamed Israel for lawlessness in the Palestinian Authority that led to attacks by Muslims against Christians. "There is no persecution of Christians by Muslims," said Sabbah. "But since there is no authority people take the law into their own hands. Muslims do not oppose Muslims, Muslims do not oppose Christians. But there is a general lack of security. Israelis worry about giving security to their own people but they do not provide security to Palestinians." Commenting on the message of Easter, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, Sabbah said that Jesus made Jews, Christians and Muslims capable of love. "We pray and we hope that our leaders can let themselves be guided by new perspectives and a new courage that will change the face of this earth and fill the minds and the hearts of the people with security, justice and tranquility."