Archbishop of Canterbury condemns latest Middle East violence
April 3, 2002

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, has appealed for Israelis and
Palestinians to step back from "the brink of catastrophe" in the Holy Land.

In a statement from Lambeth Palace, Dr Carey strongly condemned the
continuing and worsening bloodshed and violence, warning that they were "a
dead end."

Dr Carey said: "As a Christian leader, this appalling wave of violence and
bloodshed at Eastertide-enveloping as it has now the town of Bethlehem - is
especially disturbing and will appal all people of good faith.

"Having returned very recently from the Holy Land myself, I am convinced
more than ever that the international community must redouble its efforts to
help the two ancient peoples - Jews and Arabs - to find a lasting peace.
That belief is reinforced by conversations at all levels both on the ground
and since my return. I appeal to all concerned to step back from the brink
of catastrophe.

"The time has come for an immediate ceasefire. It is imperative that all
sides stop the violence and start again the search for a constructive and
peaceful settlement.

"It is the ordinary citizens of both communities who are paying the price of
political failure. This cannot continue. It is the duty of political leaders
to work for a sustainable way forward, not towards a dead end.

"We are witnessing an increasingly polarised situation, in which dangerously
simplistic diagnoses provoke equally dangerous would-be remedies.

"We must seek to help salve the pain and frustration of Palestinians who
long for a land of their own, where they can live in freedom and create a
new and prosperous future. Instead, they face the daily reality of military
repression and domination in which innocent lives are lost; of an economy
close to meltdown; of growing poverty and deprivation.

"We must also honour the deep Israeli yearning for peace and security and
for an end to the hostility towards Israel's very existence. Suicide
attacks, claiming the lives at random of innocent Israelis, are totally
wrong and must stop.

"I also call on fellow religious leaders in the region to intensify their
efforts to end the bloodshed. The Alexandria Declaration, signed earlier
this year, represents an unprecedented commitment by religious leaders in
the Holy Land - Christian, Muslim and Jewish - to work together and in their
communities for peace and security. It is a commitment which they should
honour with all the strength and goodwill at their disposal."