WASHINGTON (June 26, 1998) -- Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark, Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference International Policy Committee, issued a statement yesterday in which he urged all parties to the Middle East peace process to negotiate in good faith, especially the most sensitive issues like the status of Jerusalem.
The full text of Archbishop McCarrick's statement follows:
Most Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick
Chairman, International Policy Committee
U.S. Catholic Conference
June 25, 1998
We are gravely concerned about the decision of the Israeli government to expand the jurisdiction of Jerusalem to include Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and to constrain the proportion of the population of the city which is Arab. We fear that this unilateral action will prejudice the outcome of talks on the status of Jerusalem and will further undermine prospects for restarting the stalled peace process.
In pursuit of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East we have frequently urged all the parties to follow the path of negotiation and to avoid any unilateral action which prejudges the outcomes of negotiations. The most sensitive issues, especially Jerusalem, should be settled in good faith negotiations, not by the force of events or preemptive actions. Unilateral acts such as this can threaten the peace process, make fragile negotiations more difficult, and undermine those who are most committed to peace.
We understand the enduring attachment of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the fact that Jerusalem has been and remains the center of Palestinian life. We are among those who believe the negotiations must assure the religious freedom of all persons and communities in the Holy City through adequate international safeguards. Now is the time for all the parties to recommit themselves fully to the peace process, not to prejudge its outcomes. Now is the time for all parties to do everything to advance the cause of a just peace and nothing to hurt it.
The impasse in the peace process deprives both Israelis and Palestinians of their long-held hopes for peace with justice. The only way forward is for all parties to recommit to the process begun in Oslo and affirmed in Washington in September 1993. We support U.S. efforts to encourage the parties to meet their obligations under the agreements they have already made. A final agreement ought to give true security to Israel and a homeland to Palestinians. Not every interest should be conceived as a matter of security and not every unattained goal an occasion for protest or intransigence. A spirit of accommodation is required on all sides.
Peace depends on providing security, justice and life with dignity for the two peoples and three faiths of the Holy Land. We pray that Almighty God, in whom all things are possible, will grant the courage and perseverance to find the way to peace together.