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Archbishop of Canterbury urges end of ‘appalling war’ in Gaza

He said the conflict will not lead to security for Israel, or a free and secure Palestinian state.

There must be an immediate ceasefire in the “appalling war” in Gaza, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Most Rev Justin Welby told the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on Thursday the war will not lead to security for Israel, or a free and secure Palestinian state.

He added: “As I said recently, I repeat again today, we can only speak to the parties involved in this horror and implore that they choose life and not death.

“We continue to call for a ceasefire, for unfettered humanitarian aid, for the release of all hostages, and for the long term a resolution that provides for the safety, equality, justice and freedom of all peoples, Israeli and Palestinian.

“But we must also remember that in this 21st century, wars are easily imported.

“Foreign hatreds in nations far away of which we know little easily become the conflict of our own country and our own time and place.”

He said the actions of the Israeli Government never “in any way justify hatred of our fellow citizens of Jewish background”, calling antisemitism an “ancient evil”.

Archbishop
The Archbishop of Canterbury with the Rt Rev Shaw Paterson, the new Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland  (Church of Scotland/PA)

The Archbishop also said while churches “do not interfere in politics”, they do their duty when they “speak into politics”, stating he hopes people vote “in vast numbers” in the upcoming General Election on July 4.

He said: “My prayer for this General Election is that people vote in vast numbers first, treasuring the privilege of citizenship in this democracy.

“Who they vote for is their choice, not for churches to say.

The churches of this land, I am sure, will contribute thoughtfully, respectfully and as servants seeking the common good.

“May the new parliament be also of that mind.”

His speech on Thursday came after the Kirk’s General Assembly made a fresh call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

On Wednesday, a report of the assembly’s Faith Action Programme leadership team said Hamas’s attack on southern Israel on October 7 last year was “horrific” and led “to the deaths of around 1,200 people, alongside the capture of over 200 hostages”.

The team added: “It is also right to condemn the widespread destruction of life, homes, hospitals and health centres, by the Israeli military, and the deprivation of food and medicine which is leading to a humanitarian disaster.”

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