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20 July 2006
Statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church concerning the growing tension in the Middle East

The new outburst of violence in the Holy Land brings grief and anxiety to the millions of people throughout the world. Dozens of civilians die, are wounded and lose shelter.

This happens in the places where the holy sites are located to which the majority of people in the world trace their religious origin. Therefore, peace in the Holy Land is a common concern of humanity.

The healing of the Middle East conflict, as any conflict, is impossible until all states and all political forces give a rebuff to terrorism, offenses against civilians and taking of hostages. Attempts to justify these actions by faith are absolutely inadmissible. The World Summit of Religious Leaders recently held in Moscow condemned terrorism and extremism and urged all believers to respect and accept one another regardless of their religious, national or other differences. We address this call to Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land.

The nations are facing a danger of flaring up and escalating of the Middle East conflict with even more countries and nations involved in it. The blood shed in the Holy Land could have alarming repercussions in the entire world, leading to confrontation between Christians, Muslims and Jews. Therefore, we call upon all conflicting parties to refrain from any words and deeds that could engender reciprocal violence and further inflame the hatred. This especially concerns the killing of civilians, and destruction and defilement of religious buildings.

No one should remain indifferent to what is happening in the Middle East. The recent developments demand effective response of the countries having historical influence in the Middle East. One should admit that the efforts taken by world community so far failed to stop the conflicting parties from destructive and provocative actions. We believe that the situation must be improved through the means for restoring peace envisaged by international law. The decisions taken by world community earlier must be observed. At present it must stop the escalation of conflict and the violation of the established borders and demarcation lines.

We hope that all peace-loving states, including Russia, would combine their efforts to stop bloodshed and to establish just peace in the Middle East. May the land, sanctified by the Lords feet, finally become a place where righteousness and peace will kiss each other (Ps 85:10). As the holy psalmist David put it, May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness (Ps 72:3).

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