Patriarch Rai: Law on Jewish state excludes Christians and Muslims

The cardinal has labeled the law as "ignoble, anti-democratic and anti-pluralist". An appeal to the UN to guarantee the rights of Palestinians according to international decisions.


Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The law voted by the Knesset, which defines Israel as "the nation-state of the Jewish people" is "inadmissible because it excludes the two Christian religions (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) and Muslim". This is what the Maronite Patriarch Card. Beshara Rai  said yesterday, during a mass dedicated to the hermit St. Charbel at Faraya (Kesruan).

The law, passed last July 19 by 62 votes in favor and 55 against, immediately found opposition from Palestinian parliamentarians in the Knesset. The patriarch's comment is the first official comment by a Catholic personality.

Cardinal Rai denounced the law as "ignoble, anti-democratic and anti-pluralist", linked to the previous decision of the Israeli parliament to proclaim Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The patriarch pointed out that "in this land [Israel and occupied territories] we have episcopates, parishes, institutions and a people. The Jewish people - and the states that support them - do not have the right to push their aggressions and their acts of exclusion further and further."

The Cardinal said he wanted to address "an appeal to the UN and the Security Council to take a decision to annul the Knesset law on the basis of previous international decisions relating to" Palestinian rights.

The law has been accepted amid the silence of many Arab countries. So far, only Palestinians and Arab parliamentarians in Israel have criticized it as legalized "racism" and "apartheid". Several groups of Israeli activists have stood against the law because it undermines minority rights.

The European Union, expressing its concern, also called for the rights of minorities to be respected.