INTERNATIONAL guarantees must be established to make sure that Jerusalem is protected as a city sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, urged Pope John Paul in an apostolic letter to all Catholics, dated Good Friday.
The letter coincided with collections in churches for the upkeep of the Holy Places. In its brief span of 1,300 words, the letter insisted that Jews in Israel have the right to "their desired safety and to the just tranquility which is the prerogative of every nation."
But by the same token, he said: "The Palestinian people who have historical origins in that region and Who have lived as nomads for decades have a natural right, based on justice to acquire a homeland and to live there in harmony and tranquility with the other peoples of the "same region".
The Pope said he would have liked to visit Jerusalem during the Holy Year, which ended on Easter Sunday.
The Vatican has leant towards an international solution to the status of Jerusalem since Israel declared it a united city under its own occupation since 1980. The Pope expressed his disagreement with the Israeli attitude when he met Mr Yitzhak Shamir, then its Foreign Minister and now its Prime Minister, in 1982.
In his turn, Mr Shamir had stressed the preservation of freedom of access to the Holy Places favoured by the Israeli government.