Letter from Pax Christi International to the UN Security Council

of behalf of the protection of the Palestinian People.

S.E. M. MoctarOUANE

Ambassadeur, Représentant permanent du Mali auprès des Nations Unies - President of the UN SecurityCouncil

111 EAST 69th Street

New-York NY 10021 - USA


Reference:  650PLE                                                         Brussels, 13 December 2001

Dear Sir,

Pax Christi, the international Catholic peace movement, unequivocally condemns all violent acts in Israel and Palestine over the last weeks. We deeply mourn the many innocent lives lost and extend our condolences to family and friends of the victims. We reject as inexcusable all attacks against civilians, no matter who carries them out.

The urgent quest for an end to violence between Israelis and Palestinians requires that leaders refrain from acts of force and retaliation, as well as stop terror or other violent acts against innocent civilians by those under their command. Neither victory nor security can be gained through violence in whatever form. Only a path of negotiations, in conformity to international law will lead to a just and lasting peace.

Pax Christi International shares the position held by the Presidency of the European Union in its latest statement of 4 December 21001, that “destabilising the Palestinian Authority would not help stop the cycle of violence. On the contrary, the Palestinian Authority should be helped to assume all of its responsibilities under the agreements it has signed.”

The International Catholic Peace Movement calls on the UN for immediate steps and initiatives to stop the violence and military actions from whatever side. According to Pax Christi, both parties should go back to negotiating based on the framework of international law and all the relevant UN resolutions and Geneva Conventions. The core of the question is the Israeli military occupation of Palestine and the Palestinian claims for their freedom and land.

Pax Christi International has some direct partners in the Holy Land. Our organisation maintains close contact and enjoys positive relationships with peace and human rights organisations in both the Israeli and the Palestinian community. Our movement will continue to monitor the daily situation in Israel – Palestine.

As the President of the Security Council, we call on you, to debate as a matter of emergency, the situation in Israel – Palestine. With due urgency, we ask the Security Council of the United Nations to work to create an international monitoring and observer force in the conflict region as an immediate way of discouraging further violence.

Yours Sincerely,

Etienne De Jonghe

International Secretary


Christmas Season in the Holy Land
By Dr. Maria C. Khoury

As the Holy Land is once again watered by blood, Muslims, Jews and Christians are preparing to celebrate holy days that traditionally bring joy and happiness into our lives. However, following endless days of closure, two weeks of children missing school, three consecutive days of Israeli bombings and brutal aggression, we are experiencing fear, terror and more bloodshed in the land where the Prince of Peace preached the golden rule love your neighbor as yourself.

We remain speechless and shocked as the Israeli army invaded all Palestinian territories and began a major destructive campaign. We have prayed and hoped for so long that the United States and the European Union could force Israel to recognize the human rights of Palestinians in this new millennium. But, this week, the lowest point since the Oslo Peace Agreement, we are left with death and destruction all around us as President Bush gave Ariel Sharon a green light to get the "terrorists." But sometimes the rockets fall on schools like the ones yesterday that destroyed eight classrooms at my children's school in Ramallah, an elite private Arab-American school famous for graduating leaders in the Palestinian community such as Dr. Hanan Ashrawi. Has CNN ever mentioned that over one hundred schools have had a direct missile hit this last year? I'm just grateful my children were stuck at home because of the siege but the little girl in the town of Jenin last month was not so lucky, she was killed sitting in her classroom at her desk as the rocket hit her school.

We are facing a Christmas Season disappointed that the Oslo Peace Agreement failed, frustrated that the Israeli Army continues to bomb us non-stop, angry that innocent people keep dying on both sides, fed up that the Americans keep supplying the missiles, helicopters and F-16's that continue to destroy the Holy Land, aggravated that most of us are prisoners in our own homes, and miserable with curfews enforced by tanks and armored jeeps in Palestinian streets. Rockets and bullets in our neighborhoods replaced the lovely Christmas decorations again this year. The beautiful Christmas music is replaced by constant bombing and shooting that leaves children with sleepless nights. Children are not receiving Christmas gifts because many parents have been without jobs for 14 months. There are no Christmas Day parades especially as is customary in our village of Taybeh where the boy scouts announce the birth of Christ to the beat of their drums. There are no Christmas murals painted throughout the village to express joy and happiness because too many martyrs have given their life to free Palestine. There is just mourning and sadness, day after day.

The Grace of God sustains most people and our faith for a better future in the Holy Land will maintain the inner peace we need to survive since there is absolutely no peace in our world. No matter where we live or who we are, God calls us to serve Him with all of heart, mind and all of our strength. We are called to do good works on earth that give Glory to God. "…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." (Ephesians 4:1) This calling for me means bringing awareness to the Palestinian struggle for a homeland in the land of Christ's birth. As we celebrate this Holy Season with so many families having lost loved ones, we beg the international community to put pressure on Israel to end the military occupation of Palestine. For the love of humanity, we urge people to call their senators and representatives to end the bloodshed and tragedy in the Holy Land. The land of our Christian roots deserves better than the current atrocities. Please make a difference in our lives and know the Israeli army is denying three million Palestinians their human rights to self-determination.

A twelve-year-old student in Ramallah for the English Writing Competition has expressed this urgent need well: "As I am a Palestinian child I have my own wish. My wish is to have our rights as any other children who live in a free country. All children all over the world have a safe home, safe school and safe roads, but we have nothing. I wish we had safe roads to travel from place to place with no fear, with no threatening of death, with no guns that are aimed at our little hearts. I wish I could sleep with soft music playing around, not with voices of bombing and shooting. I wish I could wake up on sounds of birds singing happily not on sounds of destroying houses." (Lara Murrar, 6th grade) Another twelve-year-old student in Nablus wrote: "My wish is the wish of all the Palestinians, all the Muslims and the Christians. It's the freedom of Palestine."

In conclusion, during these holy days, please hear these voices in the wilderness crying for freedom and independence and pray with us for peace in the Holy Land. "…with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26). May your holidays be filled with all of God's blessings and may peace and eternal love abide in your hearts.