TEL AVIV (Sep. 28)
A sweeping denial that Israel troops bore any responsibility for the destruction of shrines in Jerusalem was issued last night by a Foreign Ministry spokesman. The statement was in answer to charges last week attributed to the Rev. Brother Raphael Quinn of Montreal, secretary to the Roman Catholic Custodian of Holy Places.
Pointing out that 80 percent of church property requisitioned by the Jewish army during the hostilities has already been restored to the churches and 20 percent will be released soon, the Israel official said: “The statement by Brother Raphael Quinn from Montreal is fully in line with the defamation campaign emanating the past year from Arab and Catholic sources in the Old City for purposes of poisoning the good relations between the Israel Government and the Catholic community in this country.
“The government and the people of Israel have repeatedly condemned those isolated acts of desecration of church property as committed by small groups of irresponsible persons in the early period following the establishment of the state, and mostly committed in the heat of fighting and prior to effective control over those institutions in the war-ridden areas.
“Monsignor Thomas MacMahon in March wrote to the Secretary-General of the United Nations expressing satisfaction with the Israel Government’s genuine desire to repair any damage done and to maintain proper relations with the religious institutions and their boundaries. After his second visit here two months ago, Monsignor MacMahon reiterated his satisfaction with the progressive stabilization of those relations.”
Declaring that Israel consistently advocated that the Holy Places be safeguarded by an international authority and pledged the fullest cooperation in the implementation of such an agreement, the spokesman said: “After one year of independence, Israel’s record of treatment of its Christian communities will stand comparison with the 30 years of independence of the Arab states.”