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From the Vatican Information Service :

Today’s vote manifests the sentiment of the majority of the international community and recognises a more significant presence to Palestinians within the United Nations. At the same time, it is the conviction of the Holy See that this result does not constitute, per se, a sufficient solution to the existing problems in the Region: which, in fact, can only find an adequate response through the effective commitment to building peace and stability, in justice and in the respect for legitimate aspirations, both of the Israelis and of the Palestinians.

Therefore, the Holy See, at various times, has invited the leaders of the two Peoples to restart the negotiations in good faith and to avoid actions, or the placing of conditions, which would contradict the declarations of goodwill and the sincere search for solutions which could become secure foundations for a lasting peace. Moreover, the Holy See has made a pressing appeal to the International Community to increase its commitment and to encourage its creativity, through the adoption of suitable initiatives which may help to achieve a lasting peace, that respects the rights of Israelis and of Palestinians. Peace needs courageous decisions!

Considering the outcome of today’s vote of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and to encourage the International Community, and in particular the Parties directly concerned, towards concrete action in view of the aforementioned objectives – the Holy See welcomes with favour the decision of the General Assembly by which Palestine has become a non-member Observer State of the United Nations. It is a propitious occasion to recall also the common position that the Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation expressed in the Basic Agreement of 15 February 2000, intended to support the recognition of a internationally guaranteed special statute for the City of Jerusalem, and aimed, in particular, to safeguarding the freedom of religion and of conscience, the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem as a Holy City, respect for and freedom of access to its Holy Places.

Noble hopes, some of which I share. Yet I fear that here, as elsewhere in its actions at U.N., the Holy See risks embarrassing the gospel and compromising the Church’s moral witness. There were better and worse reasons for granting Palestine its new status, but the whole proceeding was tainted by the inverse exceptionalism with which the globe regards the state of Israel. Israel’s actions are always judged with special and selective harshness while the claims of the Palestinians are looked on with a sympathy enjoyed by no other group. And so we hear loud complaints about Israel’s careful response to rocket attacks and not a peep about the slaughter of Syrians by Assad. We hear a great deal about the (in many ways legitimate) aspirations of the Palestinians but not a thing about the Kurds .

The awkwardness of the situation is indicated by the fact that Palestine’s newly granted status of Non-member Observer State  is the same one previously, and exclusively, held by the Vatican . Now the Holy See’s own status at the U.N. risks being drawn into future debates over Palestine’s. Further confusions abound when the Holy See aggressively lobbies—-and rhetorically cozies up to—-tinpot dictators in order to win their support for keeping, say, abortion, out of international treaty documents. The endless small-ball politicking leaves us looking not like the church universal and militant but rather like another state (or rather “Non-member Observer State”) occupied by worldly concerns.

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