Bishops say discussions on Israel-Palestine conflict were “timely and challenging”

The Bishop of Clifton, the Rt Rev Declan Lang, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales department for international affairs, and the Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Revd Michael Langrish, who is lead bishop for the Church of England for the Middle East Peace Process, have met with with the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, Daniel Taub.

In a joint statement, the bishops said the meeting, in which they discussed the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, was “both timely and challenging”.

“We discussed the grave problems confronting the peoples of the Holy Land, including the rise of extremism, settlement building and the impact of the separation barrier on communities,” the statement said.

“The encounter also provided an opportunity to talk frankly and openly with Ambassador Taub about the prospects for a negotiated settlement following last Friday’s announcement by US Secretary of State John Kerry that Israeli and Palestinian leaders had reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations.”

The bishops added that the conflict has for too long been “an open wound that has frustrated the hopes and aspirations of both communities to live in dignity, peace and security.”

The statement said: “Now is the time to escape the prism of pain and fear through which Christian, Jew and Muslim see each other in the Holy Land. We very much hope and pray that both sides take advantage of this opportunity and refrain from actions that might see this chance lost.

“The prospect for securing a negotiated resolution has never looked so daunting but neither has it been so necessary. The cost of failure is too unbearable to imagine.”