GENEVA — Mourning the deaths of protesters in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, the Vatican’s observer at U.N. agencies in Geneva urged people on both sides to let “wisdom and prudence prevail.”
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican observer, spoke May 18 at a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council dedicated to discussing “the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”
Protests along the Gaza-Israeli border and in the West Bank continued after 60 people were killed May 14 in clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians protesting the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and al-Naqba, what Palestinians call their catastrophe — the creation of the State of Israel.
Just before U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, Pope Francis had urged caution, saying a unilateral move could cause more violence in the region.
Jurkovic quoted the pope, telling the U.N. panel, “All those involved in the recent deplorable actions must recall, well beyond the question of borders, the ‘unique identity of Jerusalem, which is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in which the holy places are venerated by the respective religions, and which has a special vocation for peace.'”
The violence in May, the archbishop said, demonstrates what Francis had said at his weekly general audience May 16, “War begets war, violence begets violence.”
Every human being has the right to enjoy peace, the archbishop said. And “state authorities, indeed, have the solemn duty and responsibility to encourage all parties concerned to find paths to a true and sustainable peace, which is the fruit of justice.”
The Vatican, Jurkovic said, “once again calls for the courage to say ‘yes’ to encounter and ‘no’ to conflict; ‘yes’ to dialogue and ‘no’ to violence; ‘yes’ to negotiations and ‘no’ to hostilities; ‘yes’ to respect for agreements and ‘no’ to acts of provocation; ‘yes’ to sincerity and ‘no’ to duplicity.”
The archbishop also echoed what Francis had told Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Abu Mazen during a peace meeting at the Vatican in 2014: “All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity.”