Donegal Bishop Alan McGuckian urges international community to live up to responsibilities after visiting Palestine and finding life 'more and more unbearable' for its people
The Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian has said "we must not ignore the voice of people in the Holy Land" after visiting Palestine and reporting living conditions are becoming “more and more unbearable”.
Bishop McGuckian was among an international delegation of senior clergy who travelled to the West Bank at the invitation of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land.
Following the visit the Donegal prelate was co-signatory to hard-hitting statement that urged governments to do more to meet their responsibilities for upholding international law and protecting human dignity.
"In some cases, they have become actively complicit in the evils of conflict and occupation," they said.
The Bishops said the people of Palestine were facing the further "evaporation of hope for a durable solution”.
"We have witnessed this reality first-hand, particularly how construction of settlements and the separation wall is destroying any prospect of two states existing in peace," they stated.
Life was becoming “more and more unbearable”, they added.
"This is painfully clear in the West Bank where our sisters and brothers are denied even basic rights including freedom of movement. In Gaza, the political decisions of all sides have resulted in the creation of an open-air prison, human rights abuses and a profound humanitarian crisis.
"We were welcomed by families whose focus is now day-to-day survival and whose aspirations have been reduced to bare essentials such as electricity and clean water.
"Amid these circumstances, we are moved by the sacrifice of religious sisters, lay people and priests who are reaching out with respect to every side, in order to build a better future for all.
"They offer vital services, especially education, job opportunities and care for the most vulnerable people. We give thanks for their witness," they stated.
The Bishops urged the international community to insist upon the application of international law; recognise the State of Palestine; address the security concerns of Israel and the right of all to live in safety; rejecting political or economic support for settlements; and, resolutely oppose acts of violence or abuses of human rights by any side.
"In taking these steps the international community can meaningfully stand in solidarity with those Israelis and Palestinians who are refusing to give up their non-violent struggle for justice, peace and human rights.
"We pray for the peace of Jerusalem," the bishops concluded.