The UK’s two most senior Christian leaders have told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that they oppose the planned annexation of large areas of the West Bank by the Israeli government.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who heads the Anglican Church, penned his concern together with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the most senior Catholic leader in the UK. They also wrote to the Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev.
A statement from Lambeth Palace said they “expressed their opposition to any move by the Government of Israel to annex West Bank territory after 1 July,” the date that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government plans to start claiming sovereignty.
The angry letters follow recent warnings from church leaders in both Israel and the Palestinian territories that the Israeli government’s annexation plans will “bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process”.
The Palace said Welby and Nichols made clear that they “unambiguously support the fundamental right of Israel’s citizens to live in peace and safety, but these prospects can only be secured through negotiation rather than annexation”.
It added that it was “essential that both Israelis and Palestinians may live without violence or the threat of violence from each other or other armed groups”.
The World Council of Churches has asked European diplomats to sanction Israel if it goes ahead with annexation plans, in a letter to EU foreign ministers.
The umbrella body, headquartered in Geneva, has 350 member churches with roughly 500,000 followers between them, but the Catholic Church is not a member.