Israel Rejects Vatican Accusations

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
24 November 1999

The Israeli Government completely rejects the accusations made by the Spokesman of the Holy See to the effect that Israel’s decision regarding the dispute in Nazareth is intended to aggravate divisions between Christians and Muslims. We regret that such a statement recalls the time-honored convention of accusing the wrong party.

The Israeli Government’s agreement – which includes several clauses – to respond positively to the request by Muslim officials in Nazareth to build a mosque on the site stemmed from its attentiveness to the sensitivities of all its citizens and the need to uphold freedom of religious worship for all.

It should be pointed out that attempts by official Islamic bodies, such as the Supreme Muslim Council of Jerusalem, to prevent or to postpone the construction of the mosque were rejected by the initiators of the project from among the Nazareth Muslim community.

The Israeli Government wishes to reiterate its uncompromising commitment to uphold public order in Nazareth and throughout the Holy Land, and to ensure tranquility and security to all sectors of the population regardless of their religion, as well as to the pilgrims who are coming to visit the holy places of all faiths. The State of Israel expects all those who hold these principles dear to join it in these efforts.