|Al Jazeera English, May 13, 2009|
Pope Benedict XVI has called the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank a symbol of "stalemate", during a tour of the occupied Palestinian territory.
The pontiff was speaking at the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem alongside Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, as part of his first trip to the West Bank...
The pope said he understood the frustration felt by Palestinian refugees.
"Your legitimate aspirations for permanent homes, for an independent Palestinian state remain unfulfilled.
"Instead you find yourselves trapped ... in a spiral of violence, of attack and counter-attack, retaliation and continual destruction. The whole world is longing for this spiral to be broken, for peace to put an end to the constant fighting."
The pontiff earlier told Palestinians in Bethlehem's Manger Square that he believes they have the right to a sovereign Palestinian homeland.
"Mr President, the Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbours, within internationally recognised borders," the pope said...
Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian leader of the political faction Hamas, had called on the pope to visit Gaza to see what he described as "the real holocaust against the Palestinian people".
In 2008, Israel launched a three-week assault on the occupied Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,300 people and destroying much of the impoverished area's infrastructure.
Gaza, however, is not on the itinerary for the pope's week-long pilgrimage to the region.
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html