One month after the Hamas attacks that led to the war in Gaza, Maronite Archbishop Youssef Soueif of Tripoli, Lebanon calls on the international community to intervene in the conflict.
During a recent visit to the international headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Soueif emphasized the need for a just and lasting solution for both Israel and Palestine, warning that the conflict could drag on and trigger an open war in the region.
“Let it stop. Let this war stop. Let it stop yesterday,” said a sorrowful Archbishop Soueif. “The international community has an obligation to implement the two-state solution. If not, it will be an open conflict for decades, or centuries, because no one wants to leave their country and their land.”
During the conversation, the archbishop of Tripoli, the only predominantly Sunni region in Lebanon, expressed deep concern about the current situation and its impact on the entire Middle East. “We need the intervention of actors with influence on both sides to stop the violence in Israel and Gaza. People are suffering terribly. And we are backtracking decades.”
Lebanese people know that violence is not a solution
The archbishop also described the war’s psychological impact on the Lebanese people, as well as the threat it poses to the stability of Lebanon and the region as a whole.
“People are afraid, very afraid. At this moment, in Lebanon, there is no will for a war. We had 17 years of war, and people in my country know that violence is not a solution. So, we hope that there will be no war. We hope for a diplomatic solution,” he told ACN. “But we know that in the end, in this geopolitical game, others will make the decisions.”
In response to repeated calls for peace from Pope Francis, Monsignor Soueif said that all parishes and Catholic schools in his diocese are praying with the same intentions and that he is promoting interreligious initiatives with Muslim leaders in his region, whom he maintains a good relationship with.
Help to sustain Lebanon
Finally, commenting on the written statements of the Middle Eastern bishops, in which they called on the international community to support Lebanon through an unprecedented political and economic crisis, the Maronite archbishop said: “We need to help keep Lebanon on its feet. We need to restore order and international confidence in the country. For that, we need elections. Currently, we have a prime minister, but there is no president, so the country is not functional. And that is very dangerous, not only for Lebanon, but for the entire region.”
Pointing to the fact that Lebanon has more refugees than natives, including 2.5 million Syrians and half a million Palestinians, the bishop concluded by reminding the world that “there is a huge danger of everything destabilizing. And the risk of mass emigration could affect Europe if the crisis is not resolved.”