The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) has urged the Australian Government to step up international efforts to ensure a ceasefire among Israelis and Palestinians is lasting.

With the prospect of an end to hostilities in the Gaza Strip, ACSJC Chairman, Bishop Christopher Saunders said, ‘Amid the complexities and competing claims of this conflict, the first responsibility of the international community is to prevent the killing of innocent civilians and to redress the humanitarian crisis.

‘It is obvious that a durable ceasefire is required before the humanitarian crisis is addressed, violations of international law on both sides are investigated and dialogue can resume’, Bishop Saunders said.

The Bishop repeated the words of the Australian Catholic Bishops in 2007 when they said:

“…a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is crucial to peace in the whole Middle East, and indeed to world peace. The rights and dignity of all parties to the conflict must be recognised. Australia as a global citizen should do everything possible to support the United Nations and other agents of mediation to bring about a just peace in the Holy Land.”

‘In the face of huge casualties among innocent civilians, including children, we call for greater international intervention to ensure an end to the cycle of violence and retaliation.’

Bishop Saunders called for Catholics in Australia to pray for peace and for the political leaders of Australia who share in a global responsibility to find a pathway to peace. ‘First and foremost, let us pray for the innocent civilians who have been caught up yet again in this horrific Middle Eastern conflict’, he said.