VATICAN CITY (AP) – The Vatican on Friday condemned as “unacceptable” statements denying the right of Israel to exist, an apparent reference to Iran.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls also denounced recent Palestinian attacks against Israel and Israeli retaliation, and reaffirmed the Vatican’s view that both Israel and the Palestinians had the right to live “in peace, security, each one in their own sovereign state.”

Navarro-Valls condemned “certain statements, particularly serious and unacceptable, in which the right to the existence of the state of Israel was denied.”

He did not mention Iran by name. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was widely condemned after saying Wednesday that “Israel must be wiped off the map.”

Navarro-Valls also condemned this week’s “terrorist attack” in the central Israeli town of Hadera, in which five Israelis were killed, as well as the “successive retaliation,” by Israel.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the Hadera bombing, saying it was revenge for the slaying by Israeli troops of a leading Islamic Jihad militant. On Thursday evening, Israel fired missiles at a car carrying four Islamic Jihad members in Gaza, killing them and three bystanders.

Pope Benedict XVI’s failure to condemn an attack against Israel in July sparked outrage in Israel. At the time, Navarro-Valls said the Vatican couldn’t condemn every attack against Israel because it would then also have to speak out against Israeli retaliation, which he said often violated international law.

Israel says the diplomatic spat was resolved after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wrote a letter calling the pope a “true friend of Israel.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.