Thursday, November 29, 2007

Catholic leader calls for return of Palestinian refugees

"An official from the Vatican, representative of the Catholic Church’s leader the Pope, stated on Wednesday that the Palestinian refugees have the right to return to their homeland in what is now Israel. Cardinal Renato Martino said he was encouraged by Tuesday’s peace talk in Annapolis, in the U.S., adding that he heoped that significant measures would be underway by next year.

The right of return of the over 3 million Palestinian refugees was not addressed in Annapolis, and George Bush, who called the meeting, did not make any reference to that internationally-recognized right. Israeli officials have continually called on the Palestinian leadership to give up the right of return of the refugees before Israel would even consider beginning a peace talk. Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said Tuesday that Israel refuses the right of return to Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel. The Palestinians who were disenfranchised during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 remain in refugee camps, along with their children and grandchildren, to this day. Martino spoke at a news conference to launch Pope Benedict XVI's annual message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which the Catholic Church marks on Jan. 13. The Cardinal is the head of the Vatican’s program on migrants."

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