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Jerusalem’s Patriarch on Peace in Holy Land

“In Palestine, Palestinian people for more than 60 years have been living under oppression, suppression, occupation, a lack of dignity and lack of humanity,” he said. “Is it conceivable for people who do not have dignity and freedom to grow peace?”

Habbash outlined three paths facing Palestinians and Israelis: a two-state solution in which Palestine and Israel peacefully coexist side-by-side as long as Israel withdraws to the borders that existed before the 1967 war; one country — known as Israel — where democracy and human rights exist for all residents; or the status quo, which regularly erupts into violence, continuing the tensions and animosity among Jewish and Muslim people that exists throughout much of the West Bank.

He called the third option unacceptable because it is “leads to death.”

Rabbi Metzger said peace will come when both sides respect each other and that talks must encompass more than discussions around land. Security and respect, he said, must be a prime concern.

“We believe there is a desire for peace on behalf of the Palestinian people,” Rabbi Metzger added. But he questioned Palestinian practices, such as inflaming rhetoric about Jewish people in Palestinian school textbooks and periodic rocket attacks from Gaza into communities in southern Israel.

“People (Israelis) are acting restrained,” he said. “But people also have a limit to their patience.”

Prior to the program, panelists met with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss U.S. efforts to bring peace to the Holy Land. Rabbi Metzger said the delegation urged the administration to include religious leaders in diplomacy.

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Tags: Jerusalem Holy Land Interreligious Patriarch Fouad Twal Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations