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Welby meets Bethlehem pastor and condemns killing of Palestinian civilians

08 March 2024

Alamy

The sun sets behind buildings in the Gaza Strip, seen from southern Israel, on Tuesday

The sun sets behind buildings in the Gaza Strip, seen from southern Israel, on Tuesday

THERE is “no moral justification” for the slaughter of Palestinian civilians and the continued destruction of Gaza, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said, after meeting a Palestinian pastor, the Revd Dr Munther Isaac, this week.

In a social-media post on Thursday, Archbishop Welby said that he was “grateful” to have spoken to Dr Isaac earlier that day, and that, “in listening to him, I continue to be deeply horrified by Israel’s bombardment and siege of Gaza. I condemn the killing of Palestinian civilians, the destruction of homes and neighbourhoods, and pushing people to the brink of starvation — there is no moral justification for this.”

Last week, Archbishop Welby apologised to Dr Isaac for having refused to meet him in February (News, 1 March). Dr Isaac is the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, Bethlehem, and has been one of the most prominent Palestinian Christian voices calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war (News, 30 November 2023). He has referred to the war as a genocide, and Israel as a coloniser guilty of apartheid.

In his post on Thursday, Archbishop Welby renewed his call for “an immediate ceasefire, for aid to reach all those in desperate need, and for the release of all hostages. I renew my commitment to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters, and with the people of Gaza.”

He concluded his message: “I continue to pray for all Palestinians caught up in this terrible violence, and for hostages and their families. I pray for a different path towards a just and lasting peace for all.”

Dr Isaac later replied, saying that he had had a “meaningful and honest conversation” with Archbishop Welby. “Our conversation focused on the horrific situation in Gaza and the urgent need for a ceasefire and for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. We also talked about the plight of Palestinian Christians and the struggles we face.

“I am grateful for the Archbishop’s humility, and I join my voice to his voice in calling for a ceasefire, and I urge all church leaders to pressure their governments to put an end to this genocide.”

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