(ENI and ENS)--Church leaders in the Holy Land have condemned "provocative actions" by Israeli politicians and the use of force by the military to put down the current Palestinian uprising. The leading Catholic prelate said the recent violence draws attention to Palestinian claims for a sovereign state, which, he added, should be granted.
Representatives of various Christian churches agreed that the clashes which have claimed nearly 100 lives were sparked by the visit of Israeli opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, to a site in Jerusalem's walled Old City, holy to both Muslims and Jews.
To Muslims, it is the Haram as-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary, home to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques, the third holiest place in Islam after Mecca and Medina. To Jews, it is the Temple Mount, site of their holy temples in biblical times and the most sacred place in the Jewish world.
The Anglican Dean of St George's Cathedral in Jerusalem, Michael Sellors, said it was wrong for Mr. Sharon to visit the site.
Mr. Sellors added that despite the violence there was still hope for reconciliation between Arabs and Jews. "I still believe that there is a groundswell of opinion among ordinary people who want to live at peace, but that can be only so when we have mutual respect."