Olmert: Don’t politicize church incident
Acting PM says regarding Friday’s incident at Church of Annunciation in Nazareth ‘There is something almost ridiculous in the fact that the Muslim public, which is intolerant of Christianity and its leaders, is at the forefront of the protest against an incident carried out by a weird couple and is trying to leverage the incident for election campaign purposes’
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during Sunday’s cabinet meeting regarding the incident at the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth “It is good that things ended the ay they did. This was an unfortunate incident that could have had severe ramifications.
“I call on all sides involved to act with restraint and responsibility and not drag this unfortunate incident to religious confrontations that would have nothing to do with what happened,” Olmert said.
'Individual madness cannot reach holy sites'
Olmert slammed the Muslim leadership in the country, saying “There is an attempt to gain politically from the incident. There is something almost ridiculous in the fact that the Muslim public, which is intolerant of Christianity and its leaders, is at the forefront of the protest against an incident carried out by a weird couple and is trying to leverage the incident for election campaign purposes.”
The Acting prime minister added that “Since Israel’s inception it has been strict in allowing freedom of religion and showed tolerance for all the authorities of the various religions.”
Labor Chairman Amir Peretz said “even if this (church incident) was an act carried out by crazy people, the State of Israel must send a clear message that individual madness cannot reach holy sites.”
In Nazareth on Sunday Labor MKs Raleb Majadele and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer confronted local Hadash (Arab party) activist Nadr Sarujy, expressing their indignation over the behavior of the Arab-Israeli Knesset members in the aftermath of the church incident.
Sarujy, for his part, said that the visit by Labor members to the city was aimed solely at advancing their election campaign, and not for supporting the local Christian community as they claim.
Peretz tours Nazareth (Photo: Ofer Amram)
President Moshe Katsav condemned the incident and said Israel must not let it harm the good relations between the State's Jewish and Christian resident. He stressed that the State of Israel would protect the places sacred to all the religions in Israel.
Katsav called on religious leaders to work to calm things down following the incident "which shocked all the citizens of Israel." The president spoke on Saturday evening with Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land Pierre Batista Pitabella and expressed his regret over the incident.
Neta Sela contributed to the report