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Controversial Christian priest to be honoured in Israel celebrations
The decision to honour a controversial Greek Orthodox priest who encouraged Christian Arabs to enlist in the Israeli Army is prompting opposition.
Father Gabriel Naddaf is expected to be one of 14 people lighting torches in the country's official Independence Day ceremony today.
Naddaf told The Associated Press: "I will light the torch with great pride for the glory of the state of Israel and for the good of the Christians in Israel."
Enlisting is compulsory for most Jews but voluntary for Arabs.
Recruitment drives lead by Naddaf have met resistence from some Arabs who oppose what they claim is Israel's wrongful occupation of their land.
Azmi Hakim, an Orthodox Christian activist in Nazareth, told AP: "When Gabriel Naddaf stands on stage during Independence Day in Jerusalem, he will light the torch in the name of Gabriel Naddaf and not in the name of the Christian Palestinians inside the Israeli state.
"We are part and parcel of the Palestinian people and... we don't celebrate Independence Day."
Urging Christians to forgo Arab and Palestinian labels and embrace Israeli character, Naddaf says Arabs enlisting in the army would boost integration.
In a further blow to Naddaf, it was alleged during a television broadcast on Sunday Naddaf has sexual harrassed young people and sought bribes for helping Palestinians secure Israeli permits.
Naddaf has dismissed the claims.
According to AP, the police has said some of the allegations against Father Gabriel Naddaf would be investigated.
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