News / Middle East

Pope in Final Day of Middle East Visit

Pope Backs Two-State Solution in Palestine-Israel Conflicti
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Scott Bobb
May 25, 2014 5:57 PM
Pope Francis has expressed support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict on the second day of his three-day visit to the Holy Land. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from our bureau in Jerusalem.
Pope Backs Two-State Solution in Palestine-Israel Conflict
VOA News
Pope Francis is scheduled to meet Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. He will also visit Israel's national cemetery, Mount Herzl, and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

In a welcome ceremony with the Israeli leaders, the pope said, "The right of the state of Israel to exist and to flourish in peace and security within internationally recognized borders must be universally recognized.”
 
Earlier Monday, the leader of the world's 1.3 billion Roman Catholics will meet with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, at the al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem's Old City, and visit the Dome of the Rock. The mosque compound is built on Judaism's holiest site where the biblical First and Second Temples are believed to have stood. The compound is considered the third holiest site in Islam.
 
Monday is the last day of the pope's three-day Middle Eastern visit.
 
On Sunday, Israeli President Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accepted Pope Francis' invitation to come to the Vatican and pray for peace with him.

Speaking in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Francis said the time has come "for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative" in ending "a protracted conflict that has inflicted many wounds."
 
The pope presided Sunday over a joint prayer service with Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried. 
  
Francis also celebrated Mass at Bethlehem's Manger Square, near the site where Christians believe Jesus was born, before meeting with Palestinian children in Deheisheh Refugee Camp. 
 
Saturday, in Jordan, Francis held talks with King Abdullah and heard first-hand accounts of the suffering of refugees who have fled Iraq and Syria for the safety of makeshift encampments in Jordan. 
 
Previous popes have always gone to the West Bank after first arriving in Tel Aviv, Israel. Francis' itinerary is being viewed as a symbolic nod to Palestinian aspirations for their own state. 
 
The papal visit comes just weeks after the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed, with the Israelis accusing Abbas of sabotaging the talks by agreeing to a unity deal with Hamas Islamists who run the Gaza Strip.
  
  • Pope Francis (C) leads an open-air mass at Manger Square in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, May 25, 2014. Pope Francis made an impassioned plea for peace on a pilgrimage on Sunday to Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, urging an intensified effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Pope Francis reaches to a girl after a mass in Bethlehem.
  • Nuns read the ceremony booklet as they wait for the arrival of Pope Francis to celebrate Mass in Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
  • Palestinians hold pictures of Pope Francis and Palestinian prisoners during a demonstration to call for the release of prisoners from Israeli jails and to support prisoners who have been on hunger strike, in the West Bank town of Nablus.
  • Pope Francis, center on a vehicle, greets people as he arrives in Bethlehem, West Bank.
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C) attends an open-air mass led by Pope Francis in the Manger Square, next to the Nativity Church in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
  • Pope Francis touches the wall that divides Israel from the West Bank.
  • Pope Francis is welcomed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival to the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
  • Pope Francis waves to the crowd at Manger Square in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

In the West Bank, Francis hailed the good relations between the Holy See and Palestine. Palestinian President Abbas said he told the pope Sunday that Israel is forcing Christians and Muslims out of Jerusalem. 

In its official program, the Vatican referred to Palestinian President Abbas as the president of the "state of Palestine," and his Bethlehem office as the "presidential palace."
 
Both Israelis and Palestinians have been trying to harness the Pope's standing as leader of the world's Roman Catholics to bolster their dueling narratives.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

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Comments
     
by: toriann from: long island, ny
May 26, 2014 1:23 AM
Theta only one "holy father" and that's God. NOT the pope hes definately demonic. Hes just a man like the rest of us, sinful and need of the savior Jesus Christ.
In Response

by: Amal from: Jerusalem
June 04, 2014 5:40 AM
wisdom was offered to man for many reasons one of which is discernment.

by: sharon from: usa
May 26, 2014 1:02 AM
The white horse of Revelation, ch. 6 that is the Vatican is right on schedule. Deception is rampant.

by: Roberto Ruto from: Philippines
May 25, 2014 8:03 PM
It is good that the Pope gives a stiff nudge to the Israelis to get back to the peace table and that the presidents of Palestine and Israel have heeded his call to come to Rome and resume peace talks.
It is time for peace and time for an independent Palestine and Israel to live side-by-side.
In Response

by: james nichols
May 26, 2014 1:40 AM
How wrong you are. This is only bringing biblical prophecy to fulfilment. The result will be be false peace, deception and destruction.

by: Jude Ikezu from: Lagos, Nigeria
May 25, 2014 5:46 PM
It is a pleasant move towards peace especially now that entire world is in dear need of peace. By God's grace it will not just end with only Isreal and Palistine but even to Syria, North Eastern Nigeria, Souther Sudan, Ukraine, Central African Republic, Thailand, Egypt, Lybia to maintion but few. Let every one join hand with the Holy Father, Pope Francis I, to pray for world peace.

by: Pat from: Panama city fl
May 25, 2014 5:08 PM
I think he's doing a great job as pope, washing the feet of the poor and telling the world to help the poor more is needed at this time in the world. I wish that that the president of the Mormon church would also do such things. These 2 churches are the 2 biggest churches in the world and need to stand together as one to put a end to war and hate. We should all become humanist and tell our leaders we dont war any more anywhere.

by: Marie de Leon from: USA
May 25, 2014 12:49 PM
I liked the coverage. But I think that after the killing rampage in California. Pope Francis should also invite the NRA to get with it and quit endorsing gun issues that are killing our kids.

by: arinze f o from: usa
May 25, 2014 12:38 PM
I strongly believe that the popes Invitation of the Israeli and Palestine leaders to Vatican city is a sign of peace

by: Michael Steiner from: Kuwait
May 25, 2014 12:18 PM
The region needs much less prayer - and religion in general - and more pragmatic and decisive action.

Netanyahu doesn't need to "pray" for peace; e needs to start evacuating the damn settlements instead of ramping up their construction.

by: Fossick from: Maryland, USA
May 25, 2014 9:34 AM
All news stories I have seen emphasize the pope's invitation to the Palestinian and Israeli leaders to meet with him at the Vatican, yet you simply report that he "has visited Bethlehem." It seems that you are ignoring the news, not reporting it.

by: Sensi
May 25, 2014 7:54 AM
The USA and Obama are directly responsible for vetoing any Palestinian State at the UN so-called Security Council. They are a disgrace to the international community and justice, a disgrace to the principles of self-determination and freedom, in another words a dishonest and partisan "broker" only there to shield and enable the Israeli's decades-long land-stealing, illegal colonization and military submission of another people.
In Response

by: Kathleen King from: USA
May 25, 2014 1:18 PM
"Sensi" -- this story is about Pope Francis, not the USA, not the President of the U.S. Stop ranting partisan nonsense and comment on the issue at hand. It is, in MY opinion, a very hopeful sign that His Holiness has been able to both invite and have his invitation accepted for these leaders of the two opposing sides to come to Vatican State for prayers for peace -- and it is to be hoped more concrete efforts. Too bad it is not Netanyahu coming since Peres is only a symbolic presence with no real power himself! If nothing else, the aggregation of the three men, all of different religions and personal backgrounds, are a powerful image and we must hope that the image will resonate and be fruitful.
In Response

by: Warren R. Smith from: Kennett Sqyare PA
May 25, 2014 11:24 AM
Sensi, it's so obvious, yet my government continues the masquerade. In the USA, you don't dare butt heads with the pro Israel lobby

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