(Communicated by the President’s Spokeswoman)

President Moshe Katsav condemns the incident that occurred yesterday (Friday), 3 March 2006, in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

President Katsav urges that the incident not be allowed to harm the good relations between Israel’s Jewish and Christian citizens  and emphasizes that the State of Israel is committed to maintaining Christian, Islamic and Jewish holy sites alike.

President Katsav calls on community and religious leaders to work to calm tensions following yesterday’s incident, which has caused shock and revulsion among all of Israel’s citizens.

President Katsav spoke this evening (Saturday), 4 March 2006, with Custos of the Holy Land V.R. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa. The President emphasized his regret over the incident and stressed that both the Christian establishment and Christians know very well that Israel is committed to maintaining the holy places and freedom of worship. President Katsav added that it would be necessary to draw the necessary conclusions in order to prevent such exceptional incidents in the future.