World ‘must not forget Middle East’
THE leader of the world’s Anglicans yesterday urged the international community not to ignore the problems in the Middle East amid continued stalemate in the peace process and intra-Palestinian violence.
In his Christmas Day sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams spoke of his recent visit to the region with other senior British Christian leaders and likened the troubles there to those facing all humankind.
He said it was ‘chilling’ that neither Palestinians nor Israelis were hopeful of an imminent political settlement, despite a meeting this week of Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
But he said the world should put politics to one side in determining who deserved support, saying both sides were impoverished in different ways.
Archbishop Williams’s sermon comes after a visit to the West Bank town of Bethlehem to see at firsthand the lives of ordinary Palestinians.
During the trip, he described the Israelibuilt security barrier that surrounds the town as symbolising what was ‘deeply wrong in the human heart’.
On Saturday, he launched a strongly worded attack in The Timesnewspaper against Britain and its allies’ ‘short-sighted’ and ‘ignorant’ policy in Iraq, which he said was putting Christians in the Middle East at risk.
He warned that Christians could be chased out of the region because they were now being viewed by their countrymen as ‘supporters of the crusading West’.