Palestinian bishops visit Gaza


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two Palestinian bishops visited the Gaza Strip on a trip facilitated by Israel.

Munib Younan, the Lutheran bishop of Jerusalem, and Suheil Dawani, the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, had been denied entry when they tried to enter Gaza last month as part of a larger pastoral delegation because of their Israeli citizenship. All Israeli citizens and legal residents are prohibited from entering the territory for security and safety reasons.

A special pastoral exemption was made Tuesday for both bishops.

The two churches implied in a news release after they were denied entry that their bishops, as Palestinians, were the victims of discrimination.

In a letter to the presiding bishops of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Martin Peled-Flax, minister counselor at the Embassy of Israel, criticized the churches, saying that if they had made an inquiry "in an appropriate manner," the churches would have discovered "they were being treated as any Israeli citizen or legal resident would be treated."

"It is truly a shame that both of the American church bodies chose to turn what was a resolvable issue into an excuse for disseminating a baseless and slanted account of the incident,” Peled-Flax said in a statement.

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