VATICAN CITY (CNS): Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem said Israel holds the key to defusing Palestinian violence, and warned that extremist resistance will continue to erupt as long as Israeli occupation continues.
Israel’s current campaign against Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has only added to the problem, fueling Palestinian extremist movements, Patriarch Sabbah said in an interview on December 13 with Catholic News Service.
“To declare Yasser Arafat a terrorist means one thing, that Israel does not want to have an interlocutor (dialogue partner), and will go on with its policy of crushing, of demolishing, of killing all the Palestinians,” Patriarch Sabbah said.
On December 13, Israel severed all contact with Mr Arafat, holding him “directly responsible” for Palestinian suicide bombings, and launched air strikes on Palestinian National Authority offices. Mr Arafat’s spokesman called the moves “an official declaration of war”.
Patriarch Sabbah, who participated on December 13 in a day-long Vatican meeting to discuss the crisis in the Holy Land, told CNS the Israelis were using Arafat as a scapegoat for a situation that is of their own making.
“The responsibility for this kind of violent resistance does not fall upon Arafat, it falls upon the Israelis. The basic cause of this situation is their occupation. As long as they maintain occupation, they give birth to these forms of extremism,” he said.
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