Archbishop’s visit to Israel is widely reported.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s 12 day visit to Israel and Palestine has been widely reported in the press. The Guardian previewed the visit and published several well balanced articles during the visit. Justin Welby made a surprise visit to Gaza, where he visited several hospitals. He visited Bethlehem in the West bank and met with the Christian Mayor,Vera Baboun.
After saying prayers for the people of Bethlehem and neighbouring Beit Jala in the shadow of the eight-metre high separation barrier, Welby said:
“You cannot come and hear the testimonies I heard, you cannot hear from the people who live here, without your heart becoming heavier and heavier, and more and more burdened, with that sense of people whose history has led them to a place where all they have known is disintegrating.”
“As always in these times, it is the weak, the poor who are shoved to the side. The emotional reaction is one of profound grief and sorrow, and of prayer that there will be justice and security for all.”
One of the local Mayors, William Share, challenged the Archbishop on the fact that the UK is preparing to celebrate the Balfour Declaration when they should be making an apology.
“there are limits to what the church can do … but we can speak out and remind people of the need for justice and security”. He would raise his concerns with “people in power both here and in the UK”.
“Christian Today” reported the service at St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem where he told the congregation
‘You know the fury of being treated wrongly. Even on a brief visit here, with very little understanding of probably the most complicated region of conflicts in the world, one sees the passions raised by suffering and injustice. Whether it is the utterly disrupted lives of the refugees we met in Zatari refugee camp [in Jordan] last week, or the tears of the Iraqi Christians later that day, seemingly forgotten by the world, one sees endless heart-break.
‘In Gaza there is heroism from the doctors at the hospitals, from patients and above all groups of women, but also the ever looming fears. In Nazareth, across Galilee you hear the voices of anger, or of fear and insecurity, of division and of the impact of almost a century of struggle and conflict, that affect every inhabitant of the region, all of who tell their stories of fear, of struggle.’
The Times of Israel reported briefly on the visit and focused on the suggestion made by the Archbishop that, in order for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to reach a deal there may need to be a seat at the table for the Hamas terrorist group, but cautioned the timing must be right or disaster could ensue.