Editor’s Note: The actual title to this AP story is Israel critical over Mideast synod conclusions — which is quite telling given the way we’ve reworded it to state the actual newsworthy aspect of the story. Israel claims the synod was “hijacked by anti-Israel majority” who have based their conclusions on “Arab propaganda”, which is the typical response to criticsm of bulldozing humans to expand settlements — titled to them by God. That’s hardly news…
Alessandra Rizzo and Ian Deitch
VATICAN CITY — Israel said Sunday that a meeting of Middle East bishops was hijacked by enemies of the Jewish state, after the gathering at the Vatican largely blamed Israel for conflict in the region.
In a communique at the end of their two-week meeting, the bishops demanded that Israel accept U.N. resolutions calling for an end to its occupation of Arab lands, and told Israel it shouldn’t use the Bible to justify “injustices” against the Palestinians.
“We express our disappointment that this important synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon of Israel said in a statement Sunday.
The meeting was convened by Pope Benedict XVI to discuss the future of embattled Christians in the largely Muslim region. It formally ended with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday during which the pontiff called for greater religious freedom and peace in the Middle East.
But the bishops attending the gathering issued their conclusions on Saturday.
They said they had “reflected” on the suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live and on the status of Jerusalem, a city holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims. While the bishops condemned terrorism and anti-Semitism, they laid much of the blame for the conflict squarely on Israel.
They listed the occupation of Palestinian lands, Israel’s separation barrier with the West Bank, its military checkpoints, political prisoners, demolition of homes and disturbance of Palestinians’ socio-economic lives as factors that have made life increasingly difficult for Palestinians.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said it was absurd that the Jewish state had been condemned since Israel is the only country in the region where Christians are actually thriving.
According to statistics he provided, there were some 151,700 Christians in Israel last year, compared with 132,000 in 1999 and 107,000 two decades ago.