Last update - 21:44 30/01/2006
U.S. Evangelists to boost Israel support in wake of Hamas win
By The Associated Press
The victory of Hamas in last week's Palestinian election will likely strengthen the relationship between Israel and evangelicals, Knesset members and Christian leaders said Monday.
A Hamas-led government could threaten access to holy sites and the well-being of Christians in the holy land, Israeli parliament members and evangelical leaders warned in a meeting sponsored by the Christian Allies Caucus, a group of 14 Knesset members seeking to mobilize Christian support for Israel.
Evangelical Christians are among the strongest supporters of Israel in the U.S., but some are uncomfortable with their extreme stance, opposing any Israeli pullback from the West Bank or Gaza or compromise with the
Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson caused a stir in Israel by implying that the massive stroke Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered on Jan. 4 was divine retribution for his pullout from Gaza last summer. Robertson later apologized.
Israel has said it would have no contact with a government led by Hamas, which rejects Israel's right to exist and has sent dozens of suicide bombers into Israel, killing hundreds.
At the meeting, Christian representatives said a Palestinian government led by Hamas will galvanize Christian support for Israel.
When Fatah was in power, it was more complicated for many evangelicals to
understand they should side with Israel, because Fatah was a partner to
interim peace accords, said David Decker, of the Covenant Alliance, an arm of the Christian Allies Caucus seeking to set up pro-Israel groups in parliaments around the world, including the U.S. Congress.
"Most of the civilized world understands that Hamas is bad," Decker said. "So this makes it very clear (Israel) is the one trying to make peace and (the Hamas-led Palestinians) are not."
It is no longer simply pleasant for Evangelicals and Israeli leaders to work together, said Rebecca Brimmer, president of Bridges for Peace, an Evangelical Christian organization that helps Jews immigrate to Israel.
"We must not forget we have joint enemies," Brimmer said.
Evangelicals and parliament members said it didn't matter than Hamas was
"It's openly a holy war against both our faiths," said MK Yuri Shtern. "And they (want to) keep the most important Christian holy places in their hands. This is a death threat to our civilization, to our religions."
However, Bishop Arif Shirvanian of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate in
Jerusalem, was more optimistic about Hamas.
"I am hopeful with a lot of pressure from the international community and
moderate Arab countries, Hamas will moderate its promises and ... they will come to think of achieving peace with Israel," Shirvanian said.