Pope Francis Brings Israel & Palestine ‘Together' for Peace Talk at Vatican on June 6
By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | May 26, 2014 10:34 AM EST
Pope Francis invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to come together with him in his Vatican home. His invitation came right after he had arrived in Palestine on Sunday, May 25. The invitation was issued by the pontiff so they could engage in "a heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace." This is the first time a pope initiated a direct involvement in the potential peace talk between the couple of countries that have been involved in violent fights which caused thousands of lives over the years.
Israel's President Shimon Peres (R) kisses Pope Francis during a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv May 25, 2014. Pope Francis on Sunday invited the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to come to the Vatican to pray for peace a month after U.S.-backed talks aimed at ending the Middle East conflict collapsed.
The pope called it as "the State of Palestine" in his Regina Coeli address at the Manger Square in Bethlehem. This is the first time any pontiff flew directly to the West Bank. Francis is also the very first pope to call Palestine by such a name. The Vatican was in agreement with the United Nations General Assembly's decision to consider "State of Palestine" as a non-member observer, NBC News reported. Francis definitely made a strong statement by calling it so. He also took a bow at the controversial security barrier dividing Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Francis called the present political scenario between the two countries as "increasingly unacceptable." "All of us - especially those placed at the service of their respective peoples - have the duty to become instruments and artisans of peace, especially by our prayers," he said. He called Bethlehem as "the birthplace of the Prince of Peace" as, according to The Bible, that was where Jesus Christ was born.
Francis asked both the countries to "make certain sacrifices" if needed to pursue peace "resolutely." "There is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of rights for every individual, and on mutual security," he said.
The New York Times reported that both Mr Abbas and Mr Peres had accepted the pope's invitation as they would be expected to hold the meeting on June 6.
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