Vatican Warns Against Any Changes in Jerusalem’s Status

At the some time that the United Nations Security Council was adopting a resolution last night denouncing Israel for changing “the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem,” the Vatican issued a statement here declaring that “any unilateral act fending to modify the status of the Holy City would he very serious.”

The statement came in the form of a letter from the Charge d’Affaires of the Vatican’s Permanent Observer Mission to the UN to the President of the Security Council. The statement contended that “the Jerusalem question cannot be reduced to mere ‘free access for all to the holy places’, “an argument often used by Israel when its control over Jerusalem is questioned. A solution to the Jerusalem question, the statement said also required:

“(I)” That the overall character of Jerusalem as a sacred heritage shared by all three monotheistic religious be guaranteed by appropriate measures; (2) that the religious freedom in all its aspects be safeguarded for them, (3) that the complex of rights acquired by the various communities over the shrines and the centers for spirituality, study and welfare be protected; (4) that the continuance and development of religious, educational and social activity by each community be ensured; (5) that this be actuated with equality of treatment for all three religions; (6) that this be achieved through an ‘appropriate juridical safeguard’ that does not derive from the will of only one of the parties interested.”

Declaring that the Vatican desires a “special status” for Jerusalem, the statement concluded: “The positions of the two sides on the question of sovereignty over Jerusalem are known to be very for apart; any unilateral act tending to modify the status of the Holy City would be very serious. The Holy Father’s hope is that the representatives of the nations will keep in mind the common monotheistic tradition of faith’ and succeed in finding the historical and present day reality of Jerusalem reasons for shortening the bitterness of confrontation and for promoting “harmony among all those who call upon God.’ The aim will be to ensure that Jerusalem will no longer be an object of contention but a place of encounter and brotherhood between the peoples and believers of the three religions and a pledge of friendship between the peoples who see in Jerusalem something that is part of their very soul.”

MCHENRY: RESOLUTION AVOIDS PEACE TALKS

The Council voted last night unanimously to end the occupation of Arab territories, including Jerusalem” and declared that all measures taken so far by Israel to change the status of Jerusalem are “null and void and must be rescinded.” The vote was 14-0 with the United States abstaining.

Donald McHenry, the U.S. Ambassador told the Council before the vote that the resolution before the Council contains “a number of deficiencies in its formulations,” mainly because it does not deal with the Jerusalem issue “in the context of the negotiated peace envisioned in Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) but rather quotes selectively from that resolution.”

He stated: “What is really needed is a resolution on Jerusalem which would provide a practical method for bringing peace to the people of that city. We must establish the basis for negotiations to resolve the final status of Jerusalem in the context of peace. We must find a way to ensure in clear and unequivocal terms, that the city is not again divided and that the people of all faiths have free access to the holy places.”

McHenry, however, added: “I must note that the draft resolution in question contains much that is consistent with the policy of the United States because in it are deplored the unilateral acts which have sought to change the character of the city outside a negotiated settlement. The significance of those acts is that they are inconsistent not only with international law but with the very nature of negotiations essential for peace.”

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