The Pope prays at the Western Wall

The Pope prays at the Western Wall

Christian groups around the UK are being asked to sign a declaration in support of Israel and against the rise of violent extremism in the Middle East, as part of an initiative by the Board of Deputies.

The Shalom Declaration, which was recently endorsed by the chair of the Pentecostal European Fellowship, says Israel is “the only country in the Middle East which extends freedom of worship to all its citizens”.

Dr. Arto Hämäläinen said his congregation “recognises the root of Israel in Holy Scriptures,” adding: “The Pentecostals bless Israel and pray for peace.”

Hundreds of church and prayer groups are being asked to sign the declaration, and “pray that those inciting trouble and disharmony in the Middle East and who threaten the existence of Israel will be thwarted,” with organisers saying that 130 such groups have already agreed.

“We often hear of negativity about Israel from within the churches,” said Steven Jaffe, a consultant to the Board of Deputies. “This is a powerful reminder that Jewish people have strong friends in the Christian community.”

The interfaith initiative, which was launched last year in Leeds, describes itself as “a declaration by Christians who wish to make a public stand with their Jewish brothers and sisters”.