ROME (JTA) — The Patriarch of Jerusalem accused Israel of continuing discrimination against minority religions.
Archbishop Fouad Twal also said that Pope Benedict XVI’s visit in May has not helped the situation.
The "ongoing discrimination within Israel threatens Christians and Muslims alike," Twal said in a speech last week in England that was reported by the Catholic news service Zenit. "From limiting movement and ignoring housing needs to taxation burdens and infringing on residency rights, Palestinian Christians do not know where to turn."
Twal specifically criticized Israel’s West Bank security fence, which he said "has enclosed many Palestinians in ghetto-like areas where access to work, medical care, schooling and other basic services have been badly affected."
"We have a new generation of Christians who cannot visit the holy places of their faith that are only a few kilometers from their place of residence," he added.
Twal said he was "cautiously optimistic" about efforts toward peace made by President Obama, who he said "seems much more aware than his predecessors of the fundamental errors of the administration in their attitude to the conflict."