Bishops meetings with a Vatican synod to discuss the immigration of Christians from the Middle East have blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for spurring the exodus.Bishops claimed that the region is increasingly being emptied of its traditional Christian communities, and warned that the consequence will be an increasingly Muslim-only Mideast clashing with a Christian West.

While some bishops have blamed “fanatical Islam” for the flights, others have accused Israel of impeding solutions to the Israel-Palestinian conflict by building settlements and controlling infrastructure in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Pope Benedict XVI opened the synod on October 10 and it will continue until October 24.