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Archdiocese Mum on Peres’ Invitation to O’connor

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The Archdiocese of New York declined to confirm or deny reports Tuesday the Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has formally invited Archbishop John Cardinal O’Connor to visit Israel.

Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he could not release any information on the reported invitation until O’Connor returns from the Dominican Republic this weekend. Israel Consulate sources in New York, which reportedly delivered the invitation to O’Connor last week, also declined to comment Tuesday.

O’Connor said recently he would visit Israel upon a formal invitation from the government. He also said he favored Vatican-Israeli diplomatic ties, but with some preconditions.

In a July 17 article in the JTA Bulletin, O’Connor was quoted as saying the preconditions are that Israel should assist substantially in finding a Palestinian homeland, help achieve peace in Lebanon, and assist in stabilizing the security of some eight million Christians living in Arab countries.

At the time O’Connor said he would await a formal invitation from the Israeli government to visit that country, he also stated that such a visit would require approval by the Vatican. There was no immediate indication that the Vatican was to issue such an approval.

After visiting Lebanon last June, O’Connor called for the creation of a Palestinian homeland, a position rejected by all mainstream parties in Israel. But O’Connor has since made statements and gestures aimed at demonstrating his continuing friendship with the Jewish people.

O’Connor said he does not reject the Jewish claim to a homeland in Israel following his visit to Lebanon and has since met with prominent leaders of the American Jewish community.

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