Archbishop of Canterbury apologises for refusing to meet Palestinian Christian leader

Rev Dr Munther Isaac.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has publicly apologised after refusing to meet a pastor from Bethlehem during his visit to the UK.

Archbishop Justin Welby declined to meet Rev Dr Munther Isaac after the pastor shared a platform with Jeremy Corbyn at a pro-Palestinian rally last month.

Dr Isaac, pastor of the Christmas Evangelical Lutheran church in Bethlehem, has been an outspoken critic of Israel's actions in Gaza following Hamas' October 7 terrorist attack. 

In the run-up to Christmas, his Nativity with baby Jesus in rubble went viral. 

He was one of the speakers at a recent rally in London led by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. It was attended by thousands of people who demanded a ceasefire in Gaza.

He also led a prayer vigil outside the House of Commons where he repeated his call for a ceasefire.

Archbishop Welby said in a statement that it was "wrong" not to meet with him. They are now scheduled to meet next week. 

"Recently I declined to meet with Rev Dr Munther Isaac during his UK visit," he said.

"I apologise for and deeply regret this decision, and the hurt, anger, and confusion it caused.

"I was wrong not to meet with my brother in Christ from the Holy Land, especially at this time of profound suffering for our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters. I look forward to speaking and praying with him next week."

Dr Isaac has welcomed the apology. 

"Thank you Archbishop Justin Welby," he tweeted. "I welcome this statement, and I look forward to our meeting next week as brothers in Christ."