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Cardinal Exhorts U.N. to Make Peace in Middle East

Cardinal Exhorts U.N. to Make Peace in Middle East
Security of the Whole World Is Threatened, He Says

ROME, JULY 18, 2006 ( The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is calling on the United Nations to promote dialogue and peace in the Middle East.

Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino urged the "international community, and the United Nations in particular," to "promote dialogue and peace" and affirm the state of law in the region.

Six days ago, the present crisis between Israel and Lebanon was added to the already complex situation in the Middle East.

International community

Cardinal Martino told Vatican Radio today that the Catholic Church is following closely the evolution of this spiral of violence. "As His Holiness Benedict XVI underlined in Sunday's Angelus," "the extension of the warlike actions in the Middle East cause great concern, in particular for the fate of the civilian population."

"The situation is complex and difficult to decipher, so much so as to threaten the peace and security not only of the region, but of the whole world," he said.

"At the same time, however, and with determination, in such a scenario of violence and cruel opposition, both the terrorist acts of some, as well as the military reprisals of others must be repudiated, given that both constitute a violation of law and of the most basic principles of justice."

Cardinal Martino, who was the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations for more than 25 years, said that "without delay, and before the conflict degenerates assuming even more difficult dimensions to manage, the international community and the United Nations are called to promote dialogue and peace between the opposing parties and the affirmation of a state of law in the area."

The cardinal expressed the need that the states not give in to the temptation to interpret the ongoing conflict in a political and ideological key, thus delaying, or making less effective, the diplomatic effort and humanitarian aid to the civilian population.

G-8 statement

Cardinal Martino regards the statement of the G-8 leaders on the Middle East as positive. The latter are "willing to collaborate with the United Nations for the affirmation of peace in the Middle East and, in particular, for the implementation of resolutions 1559 and 1680 of the (U.N.) Security Council relative to Lebanon, recognized as sovereign state," he said.

"They are also willing to collaborate for the resumption of dialogue and cooperation … for peace in the Middle East," he added.

However, "to the expressions of willingness it would be appropriate to have a balanced plan of action on the juridical and political plane that takes into account the fate of the civilian population," noted the cardinal.

Past resolutions

The mentioned Resolution 1559, of 2004, exhorts, among other things, "that all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias be dissolved and disarmed," and supports "the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon to the whole Lebanese territory."

Resolution 1680 of May 17, 2006, insists on compliance with the preceding resolution and observes "that in the last six months weapons entered in the Lebanese territory destined for the militias."

The full compliance with Resolution 1559 was mentioned by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as a condition for the "case-fire" in Lebanon in the present conflict. The resolution makes reference to Hezbollah guerrillas, the movement which unleashed the present crisis, specified Sunday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano.

In these days of new violence in the Middle East, Cardinal Martino calls attention to another element that must be considered: "the involvement of Islamic fundamentalist movements," "Hamas and Hezbollah in particular."

"This fact makes the situation especially worrying, given that states like Syria or Iran could take part in the conflict, thus exasperating the ideological opposition and causing and even graver reaction from Israel," he alerted.

And "the risk of the use of nuclear arms or massive destruction must not be overlooked, which could mark a tragic page for the history of the human family," he noted.

The U.N.'s vocation

According to Cardinal Martino, "today more than ever we must recover the sense of mission, or better of vocation, of the United Nations, born to 'maintain peace … and security.'"

"In the contemporary world, no conflict can be considered of a local dimension, because of its implications of a human, political and economic nature, and its possible effects on the peace and security of the world," he noted.

Hence, the cardinal sees the need for "awareness, on the part of the international community, of the common destiny itself and of the urgency of a peaceful solution to the crisis, the affirmation of peace and the state of law, and humanitarian aid for the civilian population in the Middle East."


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