Rome (Jan. 5)
Hilarion Capucci, the former Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox (Greek Catholic) Church in East Jerusalem and the West Bank who served a term in an Israeli jail for smuggling weapons to Palestinian terrorists, was the main architect of the European Economic Community’s (EEC) “peace formula” for Jerusalem, according to the Italian weekly, “Panorama.”
Capucci, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s National Council, was recruited for the task by Msgr. Agostino Casaroli, the Vatican “Foreign Minister, ” who headed the team that drafted the EEC’s Jerusalem proposals, Panorama said. They comprise one of the four chapters in the 30-page peace plan for the Middle East incur-ported in the EEC heads of state Venice Declaration of last June.
THREE SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS
The contents of the documents are still secret. Panorama claimed that the Jerusalem chapter contains three suggested solutions for Jerusalem. They are, according to the magazine: “a return to the pre-1967 situation”; “a new plan for dividing the city under a joint Arab-Israeli administration”; “extraterritoriality for the holy places” similar to that of certain Vatican basilicas outside the Vatican walls in Rome. Panorama said of the latter that “in this manner, Jerusalem would have a religious administration and this, for the Vatican, would be the best choice.”
Israeli security forces arrested Capucci on Aug. 18, 1974 on suspicion of aiding members of El Fatah. He was accused of acting as a liaison for the Fatah command in Lebanon and of bringing weapons and sabotage materials from Lebanon to terrorists on the West Bank.
On Dec. 9, 1974, Capucci was sentenced by a Jerusalem district court to a total of 59 years’ imprisonment on six counts of smuggling arms to terrorists in Israel occupied territory, having contacts with terrorist agents and serving illegal organizations. He was to have served a maximum of 12 years as the six sentences, pronounced by Judge Miriam Ben Porat were concurrent. However, Capucci served only 39 months of his sentence. He was released in 1977 through the personal intervention of Pope Paul VI. The Vatican agreed at the time to Israel’s request that the cleric stay out of politics and never return to the Middle East.
Capucci did not honor that promise. In January, 1979, he appeared at the PLO’s National Council conference in Damascus, to the acute embarrassment of the Vatican. The Holy See issued a statement at the time explaining that Capucci, who had been assigned to pastoral duties in Latin America, “made the trip to Damascus on his own initiative, without the authorization of the Holy See and without having previously informed the Holy See.”