There are no winners in war, Pope Francis said on Wednesday in an interview with the Italian broadcaster RAI, urging the Israelis and the Palestinians to live together in peace as neighbors.
“In war, one slap causes the other. One strong and the other even stronger and so it goes on,” the pope said, addressing the October 7 attack by Hamas and Israel’s retaliation against Gaza in a lengthy feature that aired right after the evening news.
The solution to the cycle of violence, the 86-year-old Jesuit argued, is to recognize an independent Palestinian state.
“Two peoples, who have to live together. With that wise solution, two states. The Oslo Accords: two well-defined states, with a special status for Jerusalem,” the pope told RAI.
The Oslo Accords were a 1990s US initiative that envisioned the establishment of a Palestinian state, but collapsed by 2000 in the Palestinian uprising known as the Second Intifada. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel could not agree on territorial demarcation, the fate of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees, and the status of Jerusalem.
Israel has rejected all calls for ceasefire and declared a “total blockade” of Gaza, vowing to eradicate Hamas once and for all. Some Israeli politicians have even advocated the expulsion of all Gaza residents to Egypt and “razing” the enclave to the ground.
“Every war is a defeat. Nothing is solved with war. Nothing. Everything is gained with peace, with dialogue,” the pope told RAI.
“The hour is very dark. One cannot find the ability to think clearly,” the pontiff said in the interview, describing the world as enveloped in darkness since 1945, because the wars did not stop after WWII. He blamed the military-industrial complex for this.
“The most serious problem is the arms industry,” the pope argued. “A person who understands investments, whom I recently met with, told me that the most profitable investments today are the arms factories.”