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Parolin: Hamas attack jeopardizes peace accord with Saudi Arabia

Cardinal Pietro Parolin. / Claude Truong-Ngoc via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Rome Newsroom, Oct 9, 2023 / 08:45 am (CNA).

After Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel this weekend, the Vatican’s Secretary of State commented on how the violence could jeopardize the potential for a diplomatic rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel amid talks to establish formal relations. 

Cardinal Pietro Parolin spoke of the unfolding war in Israel at a seminar in Tuscany on Sunday, saying: “The world seems to have gone crazy; it seems that we rely only on force, violence, and conflict to solve problems.”

“We don’t know how it will evolve and how it will end. What is happening is beyond the imaginable,” Parolin said in a video interview with “Il Regno” in Camaldoli, Italy on Oct. 8.

The cardinal also expressed disappointment that the violence has “endangered the fragile hopes for peace that seemed to emerge on the horizon even with the agreement with Saudi Arabia,” according to Vatican News.

Parolin added that in the face of the seeming failure of diplomatic efforts to achieve good results, including with the war in Ukraine, it is imperative that “we all unite in a choral prayer for peace.”

The Vatican’s chief diplomat spoke one day after Hamas militants launched coordinated attacks from the Gaza Strip, killing 700 people and abducting dozens more, according to Reuters. On Sunday, the Israeli government formally declared war and launched retaliatory strikes.

Before the attacks, the U.S. government had been involved in negotiations with Israel and Saudi Arabia working toward establishing formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has continued to push for the normalization amid worries that the war will derail the negotiations. 

Parolin said that additional “problems within the European Union” have made it difficult for Europe today to play the role for peace that it should play in the world. 

“Beyond the destruction of human lives, which we have witnessed in a horrifying way .. the fragile hopes for peace that seemed to be emerging a little bit on the horizon are going completely up in smoke,” the cardinal said.

“So this is going to demand a much much greater effort to pick up the threads and try to arrive at a peaceful solution, which is the only just solution and the only effective solution that will prevent the recurrence of these situations.”

Pope Francis prayed for peace between Israel and Palestine at the end of his Angelus address on Sunday. 

“I am following apprehensively and sorrowfully what is happening in Israel where the violence has exploded even more ferociously, causing hundreds of deaths and casualties. I express my closeness to the families and victims. I am praying for them and for all who are living hours of terror and anguish. May the attacks and weaponry cease. Please!” the pope said Oct. 8.

“And let it be understood that terrorism and war do not lead to any resolutions, but only to the death and suffering of so many innocent people. War is a defeat! Every war is a defeat! Let us pray that there be peace in Israel and in Palestine.”

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