News / Middle East

    Pope Hosts Israeli, Palestinian Presidents for Prayer Meeting

    (L-R) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of the Orthodox Christians, arrive at the Vatican Gardens to pray together in the Vatican, June 8, 2014.
    (L-R) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of the Orthodox Christians, arrive at the Vatican Gardens to pray together in the Vatican, June 8, 2014.
    VOA News
    Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas joined Pope Francis Sunday at the Vatican in an unprecedented prayer convocation for peace in the Middle East.

    The Argentine pontiff invited the two leaders last month, weeks after the latest round of Mideast peace talks collapsed.  He said he hoped Sunday's meeting would bring a "new journey" toward peace.

    "Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity," said Francis. 
     
    • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis and Israeli President Shimon Peres arrive in the Vatican Gardens to pray together at the Vatican, June 8, 2014.
    • Pope Francis welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival at the Vatican, June 8, 2014.
    • Pope Francis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are pictured in the Vatican Gardens as they pray with Israeli President Shimon Peres (not pictured) at the Vatican, June 8, 2014.
    • Israeli President Shimon Peres, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, Pope Francis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas leave after a prayer meeting at the Vatican, June 8, 2014.
    • Israeli President Shimon Peres shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as Pope Francis watches after a prayer meeting at the Vatican, June 8, 2014.

    The three leaders, joined by the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, heard Christian, Jewish and Islamic prayers from cardinals, rabbis and Muslim imams.  The two-hour meeting in the Vatican gardens included prayers from the Old and New Testaments and the Quran that were read and chanted in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Italian.
     
    The Argentine pontiff later told Abbas and Peres that "peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare."  He defined courage as "the willingness to say 'yes' to encounter and 'no' to conflict."
     
    The pope issued the surprise invitation to the two leaders last month, just weeks after the collapse of the latest round of Mideast peace talks.
     
    In the run-up to the historic gathering, the Vatican sought to dampen expectations that the convocation would lead to any immediate breakthroughs in in the stalemated peace process. 
     
    Vatican leaders also insisted the pope was not injecting himself into the peace process. They said the Church did not want to become involved in details leading to any future Israeli-Palestinian talks.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Pantelis Kyriakides from: Orlando, FL
    June 10, 2014 3:38 AM
    Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, has a more descriptive title, "Ecumenical" Patriarch, and this title is recognised by all countries, save one. I believe that VOA should have erred on the side of fairness and used the full title of Bartholomew.

    by: Virtual Savior
    June 09, 2014 3:54 AM
    WWJD? 'God Saves' 'God with us' - Jesus Christ Emmanuel. I hope this will bring Peace to both nations, and more Peace on earth.

    by: Anthony Bellchambers from: London UK
    June 09, 2014 3:08 AM
    Shimon Peres, the architect of the illegal settlements, the originator of Israel's nuclear weapon program and the man who offered atomic bombs to the South African apartheid regime to destroy Nelson Mandela's ANC Freedom Fighters - to attend a prayer meeting for peace! YOU ARE JOKING, of course!

    by: Tony from: California
    June 09, 2014 2:43 AM
    Each one of these people has a different god and various types of relationships with their "god", thus a consortium of demigods is at hand. In the ancient world these spelled trouble with those nations. Whether you believed in gods, ancient aliens or not, it doesn't matter, because people and their leaders acted accordingly to their customs, bias and beliefs when the meetings were over and treaties were made and broken. Just ask Hitler what happened between WWI and WWII.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora