Bishop of Jerusalem questions Middle East peace plan
The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem has raised serious questions about the proposed ìRoad Mapî to peace in the Middle East.
In a formal statement Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal made it clear that he had grave misgivings about the peace plan that proposes to create a Palestinian state by 2005, listing a catalogue of problems.
Making reference to an article by Israeli journalist Uri Avnery entitled "Much Ado About Nothing", the statement listed several ìpolitical realitiesî within the plan which critics have said makes it ìdead in the waterî.
The problems listed included Israel's refusal to cease building settlements, the United States' reluctance to exert serious pressure on Israel, and the lack of power in Europe and the United Nations.
The Bishop conceded however that the Road Map goes further than the Oslo agreement, laying out a firm "Declaration of Principles."
Nevertheless he also drew attention to ìgaping holesî in the proposal, including the failure to lay out the borders for a Palestinian state.
The biggest problem with the plan however, suggested the Bishop was the "Quartet" of nations set up to enforce it.
ìAny of the four players - the United Nations, the United States, Europe and Russia - must make all decisions unanimously. Because the Americans have a veto, their ally, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, will be able to veto at any point in the processî he said.
Bishop Riah also drew attention to the fact that there is little mention of "independence" in the plan when speaking of a viable state, and that it doesn't address the "right of return" for ìPalestinian refugees left to suffer in the refugee camps for more than 50 years."
The Bishop continued; ìWhat we need is not another feel-good plan, but a serious effort on the part of all players to seek peace and justice for all people who live in this land - Christian, Muslim and Jew alike. This will require making political sacrifices, including an absolute end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and the implementation of UN Resolutions 242, 338, and 194.î
ìJust as Christ sacrificed his life for us to reconcile the world to himself, those who claim to follow him must make sacrifices as they carry out the work of reconciliationî, he said.