April 15, 1998

VATICAN ( -- The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli daily, has criticized the Easter message of Pope John Paul II, who had lamented the lack of progress toward a peace agreement in the Middle East and warned that the absence of progress could provoke new risks.

In an April 15 editorial, the English-language paper-- which is generally supportive of the Netanyahu government-- accused the Pope of siding with the Palestinian Authority against Israel, and said the Pontiff's posture was less "balanced" than that of the United States and the European community.

The editorial observed that since Israel took control of the entire city of Jerusalem in 1967, the Catholic Church has always enjoyed free access to the sacred sites there and in the occupied territory of the West Bank-- a freedom which was not always available under Arab (Jordanian) rule