Israel baffles and angers me, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Times editor James Harding thanks Dr Rowan Williams at the end of the Board event in London this week

Times editor James Harding thanks Dr Rowan Williams at the end of the Board event in London this week

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that despite believing Israel has a right to defend itself, he is "baffled and angry" at some of its methods.

Dr Rowan Williams spoke in conversation with Times editor James Harding in front of more than 200 people at a JC-sponsored event organised by the Board of Deputies on Wednesday.

Less than 15 minutes into the 90- minute discussion, Mr Harding asked Dr Williams to face the "elephant in the room" and reveal his views on Israel.

"The state of Israel is a legitimate state," the archbishop said. "It has a right to exist and right to defend itself. The very fact that Israel makes so much of its status as a democratic state leaves me baffled and sometimes angry at what seems like collusion with unauthorised parties. I want to hear a legal defence of settlements and I am yet to hear it.

"Unless there is a way of representing the settlements as legitimate self-defence I remain very disturbed about that, along with many."

Dr Williams also said the rise of antisemitism was a "real concern" and that better religious education was needed to tackle it.

    Last updated: 3:39pm, March 11 2010