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Vatican Fires At Israel

The Vatican told Israel on Thursday that it would not take orders from anyone over what it does or does not condemn, as a diplomatic row boiled over into the biggest challenge yet to face to Benedict's 100- day-old papacy.

In an unusually stern statement, the Vatican also rejected claims that Benedict and his predecessor had failed to condemn Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israelis over the years.

Earlier this week, Israel demanded the Vatican explain why Pope Benedict failed to mention a deadly Palestinian attack in a speech voicing sympathy for other nations struck by Islamist suicide bombers. Addressing the faithful last Sunday, Benedict deplored the "Death, destruction and suffering in countries including Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Britain," And asked God to "stay the hands of assassins ... Driven by fanaticism and hate." The Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Vatican ambassador to ask why the sermon had not mentioned a July 12 suicide bombing by the Islamic Jihad that killed five Israelis.