11/13/2010, 00.00
VATICAN - ISRAEL
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Archbishop Bustros clarifies his words about Israel and the Promised Land

During the Synod for the Middle East controversy was sparked between Israel and the Holy See over words pronounced by the Melkite bishop at a press conference. The bishop said that he was referring to the claim of the settlers to build on Palestinian land because they are part of biblical Israel.

Washington (AsiaNews) - Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, archbishop of the Melkite Rite in Newton, Massachusetts, in an interview with "Jihad Watch" has clarified the meaning of his words, the Holy Scriptures, Promised Land and the Palestinians, which stirred controversy from Israel on October 23 during the Synod of Bishops on the Middle East.

Archbishop Bustros was quoted this sentence: "The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands,” adding, “we Christians cannot speak of the 'promised land' as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people. This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people-- all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people"

The archbishop has now told "Jiahd Watch:" During the press conference which was held at the end of the Synod, I presented this message in my role as president of the commission that drafted the message. I stated that, Israel cannot use the Biblical concept of a promised land to justify its occupation of Palestinian territory and the expulsion of Palestinians who have been living there for centuries". He added: "We Christians cannot now speak about the Promised Land for the Jewish people. With Christ the Promised Land became the Kingdom of God." Bustros concluded: "In my answer I was thinking in particular of Jewish settlers who claim their right to build on Palestinian territory by saying it forms part of biblical Israel, the land promised by God to the Jews according to the Old Testament... The creation of Israel in 1948 is a political issue, not religious". Bustros realls that we are dealing with two extremes: that of the settlers, claiming the land by referring to the Bible, and those of Muslim fundamentalists, who claim it as part of Islam. "The message of the Synod takes a moderate position and clearly suggests, as regards the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, the two-state solution."

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