The Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhrah in arabic), in Jerusalem's Old City, is seen from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel, Monday, October 30, 2017. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

Israel rejects Anglican claims of ‘driving out’ Christians

Israel says its Christian population is growing, rejecting Anglican claims of a “concerted attempt” to drive the community away.

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics said there were 182,000 Christians in the country, a rise of 1.4 per cent on last year.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby raised hackles in Israel by decrying alongside Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem Hosam Naoum a “steady ­decline” among Christians in east Jerusalem.

“Church leaders believe that there are now fewer than 2000 Christians left in the Old City of Jerusalem,” the two wrote in The Sunday Times. They said an ­“escalation of physical and verbal abuse of Christian clergy, and vandalism of holy sites by fringe, radical groups” was a “concerted ­attempt” to drive Christians in Israel away.

Their joint letter followed a December 13 plea from church leaders in Jerusalem who alleged that “radical groups continue to acquire strategic property in the Christian Quarter, with the aim of diminishing the Christian presence”.

Israel’s foreign ministry said the accusations were “baseless, and distort the reality of the Christian community in Israel”.

“The Christian population in Israel – including in Jerusalem – enjoys full freedom of religion and of worship, is constantly growing, and is part of the unique fabric of Israeli society,” it said on Monday.

Read the article in The Australian.