A CHURCH of Scotland report which seemed to question Israel's right to exist has "given cause for concern and misunderstanding", the Kirk said after emergency talks with Jewish leaders.

In a statement endorsed by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Movement for Reform Judaism and Rabbis for Human Rights, the Kirk said: "We agreed the drafting of the report, published by the Church and Society Council for discussion at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, has given cause for concern and misunderstanding of its position and requires a new introduction to set the context for the report and give clarity about some of the language used.

"The concerns of the Church about injustices faced by the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories remain firm, but that should not be mis-understood as questioning the right of the State of Israel to exist.

"Sitting round the table and listening to each other more deeply has created a real opportunity for both communities to better understand each other."

A planned debate of the paper at the General Assembly on May 18 will go ahead, but "no party will be making any further statement on this issue" until that date.

Daniel Taub, Israel's ambassador to the UK, said: "This report not only plays into extremist political positions, but negates and belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful.

"If a document of this nature is adopted by the Church of Scotland, it would mark a significant step backwards for the forces of tolerance and peace in our region."

There was outrage from Scotland's Jewish leaders last week over the report – entitled The Inheritance of Abraham? A report on the Promised Land – which appeared to question Jews' divine right to Israel. The Kirk paper said: "Christians should not be supporting any claims by Jewish or any other people, to an exclusive or even privileged divine right to possess particular territory.

"It is a misuse of the Bible to use it as a topographic guide to settle contemporary conflicts over land. In the Bible, God's promises extend in hope to all land and people."

It also said that guilt among Western Christianity over the Holocaust had "often reinforced the belief that Israel is entitled to the land unconditionally".

The paper disputed the interpretation of the Biblical Promised Land, saying it was never meant "to define a geographical territory" but rather as a "metaphor of how things ought to be among the people of God".

It added: "The fact the land is currently being taken by settlement expansion, the separation barrier, house clearance, theft and force makes it doubly wrong to seek biblical sanction for this."

Inter-faith groups have accused the Kirk paper of being "ill- considered" and "regressive".

Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, called the report an "outrage to everything that interfaith dialogue stands for" and called on the Church of Scotland to withdraw it ahead of the general assembly.

Abraham H Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League in New York, also criticised the report, describing it as "stunningly offensive".