Jerusalem bishop optimistic on Israel-Palestine question
THE ANGLICAN Bishop of Jerusalem, Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, has told a Manchester audience that he disagrees with the pessimism of today’s Palestinians.
He told a capacity Palestinian Solidarity Campaign meeting at Manchester’s Friends’ Meeting House last week: “We are closer to peace than when I was last in the city in 1994.” He believed the Palestinians and Israelis could form a confederation and be the “Switzerland of the Middle East”.
Bishop Riah, noting that reconciliation with the Palestinians would lead to peace between Israel and the rest of the Arab world, pointed out that Israelis and Palestinians had much in common. The Oslo Accords were “a right step in the right direction”. He was disappointed that they had not been fully realised. “Preserve the Christian presence for the sake of peace, normal relations and reconciliation. It will serve as a bridge.”
The Bishop disparaged Tony Blair’s 2003 road-map proposals as a “road without a map”. He thought a solution to the impasse in the region lay in Israel complying with UN Resolution 242 and the joint education of Israeli, Palestinian and Christian children.
The Bishop also spoke in Liverpool, London and York. The Manchester audience included Manchester Council of Christian and Jews chairman Rev Mike Williams, former CCJ chairman Canon Albert Radcliffe and Zionist Central Council chairman Lucille Cohen.