Palestinian and Israeli leaders should make way for others if they fail to bring peace to the region, the top Roman Catholic clergyman in Palestine told a news conference Wednesday.
In his annual Christmas message, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, a Palestinian, did not mention Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat or Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by name.
In recent years, Sabbah has been calling for an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian areas and an end to violence.
Sabbah said Wednesday that "if the present leaders do not succeed in making peace, there is only one solution: open the way to other leaders, perhaps they will succeed better where the present ones have failed."
Asked whether he was asking Arafat to resign, Sabbah said: "I'm calling to all who are unable to make peace to step down and first the Israeli authorities, because peace is in their hands, but if Arafat is unable to make peace, of course, let him also give a place to another."
Sabbah criticized Israel's decision to prevent Arafat from attending Midnight Mass in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, calling it a "useless measure." "No military authority in the world should stop a person from praying in Bethlehem, whether he is Muslim, Jewish or Druze," Sabbah said.
He suggested that if Israel does not ease travel bans in the West Bank on Christmas Eve, worshippers should pray at army checkpoints. "From places of humiliation, hatred and death, as they are now, transform them into places of worship. Call for prayer gatherings there, may God inspire intentions of justice and peace to those who ordered to establish them," Sabbah said.
Sabbah called for an end to Israel's military occupation. He said Israelis need to examine the reasons why Palestinians were launching attacks against them. (Albawaba.com)
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