Israel's ambassador to the UK has condemned a report by the Church of Scotland that questioned the divine right of Jews to the land of Israel.
The 10-page discussion paper, produced by the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland and due to be debated at the church's General Assembly later this month, reportedly says that "promises about the land of Israel were never intended to be taken literally" and that the Bible should not be used to settle conflicts over land.
"As long as Zionists think that Jewish people are serving God’s special purpose and that abuses by the state of Israel... don’t invalidate the Zionist project, they will believe themselves more entitled to the land than the Palestinian people."
The document, published on the Church's website, asks:
"Would the Jewish people today have a fairer claim to the land if they dealt justly with the Palestinians?"
The Associated Press cited Ambassador Daniel Taub as saying the document "negates and belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful."
The Scotland Herald quoted Taub as saying:
"This report not only plays into extremist political positions, but negates and belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful. If a document of this nature is adopted by the Church of Scotland it would mark a significant step backwards for the forces of tolerance and peace in our region."
The UK's Jewish community, meantime — including the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities — described the report as an "ignorant and tendentious document masquerading as a theological statement."
The Jerusalem Post, in a story headlined "Anti-Jewish text will shame the Church of Scotland," said the paper went further in "attacking the Jewish people, their 'disobedience,' and arguing that 'the promise to Abraham about land is fulfilled through the impact of Jesus, not by restoration of land to the Jewish people.'"
The church has stressed that it did not deny Israel's right to exist, but conceded Thursday the report had led to misunderstanding of its position and that some parts needed to be rewritten.
The document was set to be debated by the Church of Scotland General Assembly on May 18.