Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah: ‘War on Gaza again’

Submitted by munir on Wed, 10/18/2023 - 09:39

Following is the text of the article written by Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah on the current war raging in the Holy Land, dated October 17, 2023:


Now, you kings, come to your senses, you earthly rulers, learn your lesson!” (Ps 2: 10).


The war in Gaza has been going on for ten days. Today it is no longer a war, but rather a crime, a decision to kill and transfer all the people of Gaza, two million people. The war must stop. The words of the psalm today address Israel and the friends of Israel, Hamas and the friends of Hamas, as well as the entire Palestinian people: Now, you kings, come to your senses, you earthly rulers, learn your lesson!” (Ps 2: 10).


The war in Gaza might be brought to a stop, but the conflict will not end. As has happened in previous wars on Gaza. This is not what is required. A ceasefire could be reached, but it is not a solution. Vengeance is not the solution, and decimating Gaza is not the solution. There is no peace in these solutions, neither for Israel nor for Palestine, neither for the region nor for the world. Indeed, our question has become a world question.


A prisoner exchange is a first step to peace. It can be achieved if accepted by the powerful and those determined to annihilate Gaza. First, the annihilation of Gaza must stop. Then, the hostages and prisoners held by Hamas must be liberated, and the hostages and prisoners held by Israel must be liberated. But Israel has thousands of Palestinian prisoners, their numbers have accumulated over years. The entire Palestinian people is also prisoner. All prisoners must return free to their homes and families. Will the Palestinian people truly find its freedom?


Humanity requires that the tragedy today in Gaza stop, and that the leaders learn the lesson from this war and the previous wars, and so become able to lay a solid foundation for a just and final peace, after which we will not see a new war in Gaza, or anywhere else in Palestine. Freedom for all, justice for all, equality for all, and peace for all. Is this step possible? Is it possible to free the Palestinian people from Israeli occupation, as well as freeing the remaining prisoners in the various stages of the conflict, held by Hamas and by Israel? Is it possible to convene an international conference that makes decisions and implements them, within months, and gives Israel what Israel is entitled to, and gives the Palestinian people what the Palestinian people is entitled to? The same freedom, same dignity, a state for each, and Jerusalem capital of both, according to a formula they agree upon: East Jerusalem for Palestine, and West Jerusalem for Israel.


This is the fundamental issue, the main question that explodes time and again in Gaza, Jenin and elsewhere. It is the issue of the Palestinian people who have been imprisoned for more than seventy years. The international community looks on and knows and gives the impression that it is satisfied with the existing status quo. The United Nations has proposals for a solution but does not have the courage to implement them. The issue is political and human: prisoners and hostages must return to their families and loved ones in Israel, and prisoners and hostages must return to their families and loved ones in Palestine, and peace and security guaranteed to all.


Both peoples are capable of making peace and living in a land that God created to be a land of peace and salvation for humanity. The Palestinian and Israeli peoples are able to live in peace, side by side, each one independent in its own state. When Israel makes peace with the Palestinian people, then, and only then, will it find its security; wars will not be repeated, and there will be a true, stable and comprehensive peace for all the peoples of the region.


O kings, now be wise, and you, judges of the earth, be advised” (Ps 2:10). Now stop the war. Return to humanity. Make a just and final peace for the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. “You who rule the earth, love righteousness,” (Wisdom 1:1), and make peace in this land of God and humanity.

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Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah