Coat of Arms

Melkite Greek Catholic
PATRIARCHATE
of Antioch and All the East
of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: brave peace

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the crucial conflict in the Middle East that has been feeding all rancour, revolution and extremism for more than sixty years! It is the mother-crisis of all the regional crises that feed on these revolts and disappointments engendered by abortive peace negotiations or rather still-born preliminaries.

Yet, if we only make the effort to shake off our prejudices and accept to listen to others in complete empathy with their wishes and non-negotiable demands, we quite simply discover that room can be found for negotiations and even room for possible, viable peace between these well-defined and in principle non-negotiable positions.

Palestinians and Israelis each have the right to have and to live in a sovereign State with secure borders. And no-one will dispute for either of them this inalienable right of peoples to arrange their own affairs.

Israelis cannot betray either their faith or their nationalism. According to the Bible, the State of Israel - the national territory of the Kingdom of Israel - is the whole of Palestine. From the perspective of faith Palestine is the Promised Land of the chosen people and the national Homeland of the nationalist dream of Judaism.

Hence we can understand that any Prime Minister, Member of Parliament or other Israeli leader who proposes a solution that fails to take into account those two requirements - of faith and nationalism - would be seen as a traitor to his faith and nation.

The decision to decree that Israel is a Jewish country originates in this duality that underlies the State of Israel, a duality that, obligatorily, leads into an impasse every attempt at negotiations even if they are not still-born. Anyway, as at Masada, this is Jewish suicide.

Each of the parties, Israelis and Palestinians, are facing the wall of certainties raised by the other side. Only the intervention of a third party can get them and us out of this impasse.

This intervention would be that of an international moral force. As the UN sponsored the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, let the international community, the influential countries, have the courage today rather than tomorrow to force Israel to accept the creation of two viable States with secure borders, living side by side as good neighbours.

This moral pressure must be considered as a support for the Jewish people. Indeed, strengthened by sincere friendship not devoid of respect for the identity of the Jewish people, this pressure should consist in persuading the Israeli political class to renounce the strict, literal application of the two foundations of Israel: that of religion and Jewish nationalism. Thus compelled by the international community, Israeli leaders will no longer then be considered as traitors to the party but "having yielded to overwhelming international pressure," including that of their closest, most unconditional allies.

This pressure has no link - and should especially not be linked - with the bilateral treaties of co-operation and development aid and the alliances that Israelis or Palestinians have with this or that other country. On the contrary, this pressure, and in particular the acceptance of this solution by the Israelis, must be accompanied by international co-operation and support multiplied for both States. True peace feeds on development and prosperity without forgetting that the peoples must see in reality the beneficial effects of peace on their daily lives so that they can believe in it and begin to look at the others differently. They will then begin another kind of relationship - that of good neighbourliness, even if that will need time.

The question of the status of Jerusalem must be dealt with differently. Let's be realistic. Modern Israel has already made Tel Aviv its economic and administrative capital and Ramallah is already the seat of the Palestinian Authority. Jerusalem is everyone's. Jerusalem is the holy city and must have a particular status so that everyone can come and live their faith there. We discussed at great length the question of the status of Jerusalem during our talk at the Sant' Egidio Meeting in Barcelona from 3 to 6 October 2010 [see appended document.]

So the international community, in all its institutions and through its influential members, must be that moral authority that fosters this project of two States living side by side in peace. Today, as in 1948, but this time in the service of peace!

Gregorios III

Patriarch

Translation from French: V. Chamberlain

Teachings of Christ

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 ESV)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil's provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour's mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord's fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour's own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out'; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' - with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil - and I will give you rest.'

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ