Olive Branch - Issue No. 138 - Tuesday,
19 March 2002
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The main issues is the ending occupation and reaching a final and comprehensive peace agreement

Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters,

Our Patriarch returned back yesterday morning from Rome after a meeting of the group of Alexandria with the Pope and with other officials in the Vatican, it seems that they wanted to put the Catholic Church in the image of these meeting which are continuing regularly here in Jerusalem every month, after tomorrow will be held a meeting in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. George Carey. I hope that the religious leaders will help the political leaders to find a way out of the in going conflict between our two peoples. I am sure that religion should play a positive and reconciling role in this region where all the three monotheistic religions were born.

We just returned back from a pastoral visit to one of our small parishes nearby Jifna where we celebrated the feast of St Joseph the patron of that church. We experienced how difficult life when each village is almost closed like a big prison and separated from the other villages and cities. The new policy of the Israeli army is simply to remove the soldiers from the most of the checkpoints but to simply closed all the surrounding entrances of each village with huge cement blocks or digging deep trenches. This new policy complicates more and more the freedom of movement and increase the dangers of accidental shootings by the soldiers who might doubt of the walkers from their high hidden control and watch points. This danger is doubled if you have to travel after the sunset as we did today, because you risk to be stopped by tanks in the middle of the roads where soldiers are hidden inside it because they are afraid to stand on checkpoint, this a new measure for their safety but they donít care on your safety and you will risk your life if you move one meter ahead because all the guns are pointed at you while they are checking your documents and your carÖ We passed safely tonight but our dear friend Dr. Sari Nusseibahís car was shot at Qalandia Checkpoint but thanks God he was not harmed. You see our life?! Many people lost their lives with cold blood because they simply had to pass through the daily humiliation of these checkpoints.

 Everybody is speaking about the chances for a cease-fire after the interventions of the USA with itís envoy Gen. Zinni and the visit of Vice President Dick Chenny. I am optimistic because there is a real chance but I am afraid that this will take long time because they will be lost in tinny unessential details instead of dealing straight with the main issues of ending occupation and reaching a final and comprehensive peace agreement. This will be impossible with the actual Sharon government, therefore, we still have to wait until a new generation will come to power hoping that it will be different.
Fr. Raed Abusahlia
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
P.O.Box  14152 - Jerusalem 97500
E-mail address: latinpat@actcom.co.il
Personal e-mail: nonviolence@writeme.com
Patriarchate's Homepage: http://www.lpj.org
Personal Homepage: http://go.to/nonviolence
My brother's Homepage: http://go.to/samipage