"Israel Can't Use Bible to Justify Claims"
From Virtual Jerusalem:
A meeting of Mideast bishops declared that Israel cannot use the Bible to justify territorial claims to land in Israel.
The final statement of the two-week Synod of Bishops of the Middle East in Rome that ended Saturday blamed Israel for the conflict between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.
It rejected the use of the biblical position of the Promised Land to justify Jewish settlement of the West Bank.
"Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable," the bishops said.
The statement called for a two-state solution to the conflict and to create a peaceful atmosphere that will prevent an exodus of Christians from the region.
The document also criticized Jewish settlement of Jerusalem, saying that "We have meditated on the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its demographic balance."
Participants included more than 170 Catholic bishops from Muslim countries, as well as other Church figures and non-Catholic representatives and experts.
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon rejected the statement.
"We express our disappointment that this important Synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda," Ayalon said. "The Synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority."
In his Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI called on countries in the Middle East to guarantee religious freedom to non-Muslims. He said Middle East peace and a two-state solution were vital to solving the problems of the region.
"Peace is possible. Peace is urgent. Peace is an indispensable condition for a life worthy of the human person and of society," the pope said. "Peace is also the best remedy to avoid immigration from the Middle East."