The Archbishop of Canterbury arrived in Egypt on Sunday at the start of a five-day tour of the Middle East that will see his stance on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict scrutinised.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby, who recently revealed he regretted not voting against a General Synod motion backing a group which places Christian human rights observers in the Occupied Territories, is due to visit both Israel and the West Bank.
Lambeth Palace said Archbishop Welby had chosen the Holy Land for his first foreign visit since being enthroned because of the region’s importance to global stability.
The former oil executive, 57, who was elevated to head of the world’s 85 million Anglicans after just over a year as a bishop, learned earlier this year that his father had been born a Jew and previously unknown family members had died in the Holocaust.
The archbishop attracted controversy earlier this year when he said he regretted last summer’s vote by the Synod in support of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, saying the motion had failed to reflect the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The motion had attracted strong opposition from British Jewish groups.
Dr John Dinnen, the Synod lay member who proposed the motion, which received support from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and was overwhelmingly passed, said yesterday he hoped that Archbishop Welby would see the work of EAPPI and other peace groups while in the region.