“For peace in the Holy Land, end the occupation”

The 18-member Caritas Internationalis delegation visited the Holy Land from September 15 to 19 2002 in response to the rapidly deteriorating situation and the gross violations of human rights in the region.

The delegation is appalled by the Israeli high-tech version of apartheid being implemented in the West Bank and Gaza. It is affronted by the construction of an encircling wall — longer and higher than the Berlin Wall — strangling Palestinian communities and dashing all hopes for the future. We are deeply concerned by the adverse short- and long-term effects of the occupation on the health and nutrition of Palestinian children, as underlined in a recent USAID report. Shocked by the constant sufferings and daily humiliations of the Palestinian people, which we have witnessed first hand, the delegation urgently calls for:

  • An immediate end to the occupation including the withdrawal of all Israeli troops, checkpoints, blockades, curfews, closures, and any other obstacles to the free movement of people.

  • The implementation of all relevant UN Resolutions and respect for international humanitarian law.

  • Respect for human rights in all their dimensions — economic, political, social, cultural — and including the right to development.

  • An end to violence from all quarters – including suicide bombings, the shooting of civilians, the wanton destruction of people’s homes, and the disproportionate use of military force with impunity.

  • An immediate freeze on the planning and development of Israeli settlements on confiscated Palestinian land and properties.

  • Increased dialogue and negotiation for the creation of a viable Palestinian state – a prerequisite for peace and justice in the entire region.

  • Political mediation to assist the two parties to reach a just and lasting settlement.

  • The presence of international observers to ensure security and stability.

    The delegation stresses that there can be no peace without justice. It also underlines that silence in the face of gross injustice is a form of complicity. As a confederation of 154 Catholic member organizations working in 198 countries and territories, Caritas Internationalis pledges the following:

  • To denounce the conspiracy of silence and publish a report which will be sent to the Secretary of State in the Vatican, its Member Organisations, Bishops’ Conferences and Church networks, the United Nations, the European Union, and national governments.

  • To further develop its lobbying and advocacy campaign on Peace in the Holy Land: End the Occupation.

  • To continue its support for and solidarity with the Palestinian people, particularly through Caritas Jerusalem and all those partners involved in reconciliation and building a new society based on peace and justice.

    Caritas Internationalis General Secretariat, Palazzo San Calisto, 00120 Vatican City, Tel: (+39) 06 698 797 99, Fax: (+39) 06 698 87 237
    E-mail: caritas.internationalis@caritas.va, web: www.caritas.org