MIDDLE EAST: PIZZABALLA (CUSTODIAN), "FROM LEBANON, SYRIA AND ISRAEL GOOD NEWS, BUT WATCH OUT"

The agreement reached in Lebanon on the appointment of the new president and the election of the new Government, as well as the official announcement of the negotiations between Israel and Syria, are for father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custodian of the Holy Land, "excellent news but we must still watch out". "Excellent news is coming from the country of the cedar trees – says the Franciscan father to SIR –. The new president and the new Government will at last put an end to a crisis that was dangerously spiralling out of control". He is also glad about the negotiations between Syria and Israel, that are conducted through the mediation of Turkey. "That Israel and Syria were having contacts had been known for some time – states the Custodian –, but this is the first time it is officially said by both countries. Dialogue is always a good thing, but there is still a long way to go. There are problems within the Israeli Government, and there are many pressures on both sides". However, he adds, "we hope they will go on without dithering and will find a solution soon. That’s why we must still watch out: since Annapolis, we have only heard some nice talks, but nothing has changed locally". "With healthy Christian realism, we must be careful and make sure this will not all remain on the plane of statements but that these statements will be followed by real facts that everyone is waiting for in the Middle East".

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