US President Donald Trump’s decision to formally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is adding “fuel to the fire” to conflicts in the Middle East, a senior Vatican diplomat has told The Tablet.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a former Holy See envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, stressed the only chance of peace was a renewed effort to find a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine which respected global agreements.
“The International community sees Jerusalem as both a religious and a political centre that transcends its role for only one state,” he said. “The unilateral decision taken by the present administration of the United States deviates from the accepted position of the international community and becomes a source of tension in a region where conflicts already abound.”
The United States’ move has sparked some of the worst violence in the region for months and inflaming an already volatile situation where Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be recognised as their capital.
Archbishop Tomasi, who is the longest serving Vatican ambassador to the UN’s Geneva office, said that the decision by the United States “assumes a practical and symbolic meaning that runs against the United Nations' decisions”.
Alongside his extensive diplomatic experience, the 77-year-old Italian prelate is a migrants expert who is currently working at the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
“The complexity of the Middle East make peace appear as an illusion, but discouragement is not the answer. Rather, the huge suffering that regional conflicts inflict on refugees, internally displaced people, on the families of the hundreds of thousands of victims who lost their lives, call the Church and the international community to a renewed dialogue,” he stressed.
“The long standing position of the Holy See is that of having in the Holy Land two states, independent, respectful of each other, with well-defined borders and open to co-operation. In fact, the Holy See acts in the international context on the base of some fundamental juridical and humanitarian principles shared by all states and also it reflects its specific and unique nature and the policies it promotes.”