Pope Urges Mideast Peace Resumption


26-JUN-1997 22:27:53.80

By The Associated Press VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope John Paul II is urging the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to revive their stagnant peace talks. In letters to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the pope wrote of his dismay at their impasse. Peace talks broke down in March after Netanyahu began construction on disputed land in Jerusalem. The move provoked an outcry among Palestinians. ``My fear is that if this situation continues it will become increasingly difficult to revive the quest for the trust that is essential to every negotiation,'' his letter to Arafat said. The pope said the Holy See is always open to negotiators for the two sides. His letters were sent June 16 but only released Thursday. ``Only a Holy Land at peace will be able to welcome in a worthy manner the thousands of pilgrims who during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 will wish to come to pray there,'' he wrote to Netanyahu. The pontiff told the Israeli leader that the hopes of the people of the Holy Land ``if unfulfilled, can cause further unforeseen provocations and uncontrollable situations of violence.'' middleeast.htm