DAILY CATHOLIC WEDNESDAY December 1, 1999 vol. 10, no. 228
NEWS & VIEWS
PONTIFICAL MISSION FOR PALESTINE CELEBRATES 50 YEARS OF SERVICE WHILE U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL HOPES FOR PEACE IN HOLY LAND
Optimistic About Resolution to Nazareth Mosque Issue as Kofi Annan Addresses Crisis on International Day of Solidarity with Palestinians
BEIRUT, NOV 29 (ZENIT).- Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches, ended a 2-day visit to Beirut today, which was organized to celebrate 50 years of Pontifical Mission activity in favor of Palestinian refugees.
The Mission, which also has offices in Amman and Jerusalem, was created by Pius XII in 1949, a year after the birth of the State of Israel, and following the first war between Arabs and Israelis.
The Mission's principal task is to help Palestinian refugees. Over the years, however, the Beirut office has also coordinated aid to the Lebanese, especially during the civil war in Lebanon (1975-1990). Once the Lebanese conflict was over, the Mission collaborated in the reconstruction of infrastructures and worked for the return of refugees.
Meeting with reporters in Beirut, Cardinal Silvestrini spoke about the Holy Father's trip to the Holy Land, and expressed the hope that tensions will ease between Christians and Muslims in Nazareth, which have been exacerbated recently by the proposal to construct a mosque in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation. The Cardinal believes that the climate could change, because the Muslims in Nazareth are showing "good will." He also confirmed that "work continues" on preparations for John Paul II's trip to Iraq.
Meanwhile in New York yesterday, U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan appealed to both Israelis and Palestinians to be conscious of the frailty of the peace process in the Middle East, and to halt all actions that could endanger it, referring specifically to border issues, Israeli settlements, Palestinian refugees, water rights and the future of the city of Jerusalem.
Kofi Annan gave this address on the "last International Day of Solidarity with Palestinians of the 20th century," which was decreed by the United Nations and is being celebrated today. The Secretary General expressed the hope that one of the first achievements in the new century will be the long-awaited peace and prosperity for Israelis, Palestinians and all peoples of the Middle East.
"I am pleased to praise both Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel as well as Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestine Authority for their courage and wisdom in pursuing peace and reconciliation," Annan said. The U.N. Secretary General lamented that there are still difficulties, which constitute obstacles to progress in the peace process.
The Day of Solidarity was proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly in 1977,
to mark the anniversary of its November 29, 1947 resolution that divided
Palestine into an Arab state and Jewish state, a decision that was rejected
by the Arab countries.
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NEWS & VIEWS