Under the former Bishop, Riah Abu el-Assal, the diocese was closely linked to Fatah and the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, and was a champion of the Palestinian cause. Anglican Palestinians have played a disproportionally prominent role in Palestinian life and are found in the professional classes, as well as in politics and civil society and include the late Columbia University Professor Edward Said, politician Hanan Ashrawi and Canon Naim Ateek, the president of the Sabeel Ecumenical Centre.
One consequence of this activist stance was that it partially protected Palestinian Anglicans from the predations at the hands of Islamist or political activists.
Bishop Darwani has quietly moved away from some of the rejectionist policies espoused by Bishop Riah, and was instrumental in setting up the Archbishop of Canterbury’s dialogue commission with the chief rabbinate of Israel.
However, public identification as a pro-Israel church is a worrisome development for the small Arab Anglican community in the Palestinian Authority territories, and could have baleful consequences its leaders tell ReligiousIntelligence.com.
The leadership team of GAFCON contacted ReligiousIntelligence.Com to say that a letter was sent to Bishop Suheil Dawani on December 24, two days prior to the press announcement. Two of the leadership team, Archbishop Peter Akinola and Archbishop Peter Jensen, had already reqested a meeting with him to discuss his concerns with him in the next two weeks.
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