Vatican Raises the Ante on Israel

Been keeping an eye on the Vatican-Israeli tit-for-tat going on over the past few days. Pope Benedict XVI issued a condemnation of terror attacks in Egypt and mentioned a list of nations affected by terrorism. He did not mention Israel, in which the Israeli embassy sent a blistering condemnation to the Vatican ambassador, as well as taking their outrage to the public.

Now honestly, the omission wasn’t deliberate. Could not have been. Israel already suffers a tremendous amount of terror attacks, but rarely do you hear of such a wide-ranging offensive in places such as Egypt and London. In short, the Israelis are playing the card of diplomatic hypersensitivity to use as leverage against the Vatican during negotiations — especially concerning the status of the holy sites and the construction of the West Bank wall. So Israel threw what is tantamount to a diplomatic temper-tantrum, and the Vatican watched silently.

Until now. In response to the Israeli showdown, Vatican diplomats have fired few shots across the bow, just to bring some perspective into the conversation:

‘It’s not always possible to immediately follow every attack against Israel with a public statement of condemnation,’ a statement from the Vatican press office said Thursday night, ‘and (that is) for various reasons, among them the fact that the attacks against Israel sometimes were followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the rules of international law.’

‘It would thus be impossible to condemn the first (the terror strikes) and let the second (Israeli retaliation) pass in silence,’ said the statement, which had an unusually blistering tone for the Holy See.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the Vatican statement.

In other words, the Israelis got the point. When you build barriers through Christian holy sites, when you shoot up the car carrying Bishop Marcuzzo (even when it was flying the Vatican flag), when you bomb out Palestinian police barracks in response to HAMAS terror attacks, one should reasonably expect a rather short leash when it comes to being able to claim a grieved status on terrorism.

Whether the Likud government wants a full-scale PR discussion on how Christians are treated in Israel is another story altogether. Personally, I don’t think they relish the idea, and for good reason.

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