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Israeli aide says Norwegian church Gaza statement ‘one-sided’

World News

The general secretary of the (Lutheran) Church of Norway’s council on foreign and ecumenical relations, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, says he was summoned to the Israeli embassy in Oslo after criticising Israel’s use of military force in Gaza.

In a 30 December letter to Israel’s ambassador in Norway, Fykse Tveit and Bishop Olav Skjevesland, the church’s presiding bishop, had urged Israeli authorities to "halt the humanitarian disaster now developing dramatically in Gaza".

They stated that that the Israeli action is affecting the entire population of Gaza, and termed it a "breach of international law to attack civilians in general, to hinder necessary assistance to wounded persons and to ignore the life and health of the population".

The Bergens Tidende daily newspaper on 6 January quoted Fykse Tveit as saying he had been told by Israel’s chargé d’affaires, Aviad Irvi, the previous day that the letter was one-sided in its criticism of Israel.

Fykse Tveit has been nominated by the Church of Norway as a candidate to succeed the Rev. Samuel Kobia as general secretary of the World Council of Churches when nominations for a person to take over the top post in the WCC are considered in April.

In their letter, Fykse Tveit and Skjevesland had expressed "profound concern that the enormous use of Israeli military power will not promote the peace so sorely needed by Israelis as well as Palestinians".

Israeli authorities were challenged to treat Palestinian civilians "in accordance with our Jewish-Christian moral heritage".

The letter said, "All use of violence is deepening the conflict. This goes for the use of violent means by both parties. Due to its military strength Israel has a particular responsibility for the enormous loss of human lives we are now witnessing."

Bishop Skjevesland was quoted by the Vaart Land daily newspaper as saying that the letter had not declined in relevance since it was written. "The humanitarian situation has deteriorated a lot," he said.

(c) Ecumenical News International

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