In his address to diplomats accredited to the Holy See Monday, Pope Benedict spoke of the Holy Land, “where tensions between Palestinians and Israelis affect the stability of the entire Middle East.” He said “it is necessary that the leaders of these two peoples adopt courageous and farsighted decisions in favor of peace,” and added he was pleased to learn of the “initiative of the Kingdom of Jordan,” thanks to which “dialogue has been resumed.”
Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechay Lewy, was among diplomats present. He was later interviewed in German and in English by Vatican Radio’s Tracey McClure .
Reminding the audience that “not only Rabin but also Sharon was able to make courageous steps, when he left Gaza,” Lewy said he was pleased with the Pope’s remarks that recognized Jordan’s task as a facilitator in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“I am very much pleased that the Holy Father mentioned these new developments which are indeed encouraging – renewing talks after a stalemate of longer than one year is definitely good news. And even better news is that Jordan this time stepped in and is a facilitator…we are not a prophet; we don’t know what will come out (of the talks) but it cannot be worse than not talking, so I think the Holy Father saw the light in the window and he encouraged the lights to be stronger and I think that’s very much welcomed by us.”
Lewy contradicted MacClure’s assertion that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is at the nucleus of all Middle Eastern problems. “The Middle East has many sources of instability… that are not connected to our own problems with our immediate neighbors. What I would like to stress more is that there is a prescription in his (Benedict 16’s) words regarding what he envisions – two sovereign states with secure borders. I think everybody could endorse this in Israel and among the Palestinians.”
Regarding recent Palestinian steps for recognition in the UN, Lewy remarked that these have proven to be futile due to their unilateral format. He heard, in the Pope’s words, a “hidden or salient criticism directed at the UN for letting the Palestinians do this on a lateral basis without negotiations. It could be understood that he is not very pleased with what was done on behalf of the Palestinians, and this is also what I understood from Roeign Minister Mamberti’s speech to the UN plenum.”
When asked by Vatican Radio what he considers creative steps, Lewy stated: “Creativity lies in compromise. The formula for peace is a formula of compromise. In order to get a compromise, you need to be creative and be able to satisfy domestic pressure and international needs.”
For the full interview with Ambassador Lewy, click here