May 25 - Pope Calls to End 'Unacceptable' Arab-Israeli Conflict
Article: Israel And The Last Days
Pope Francis on Sunday urged an end to the "increasingly unacceptable" Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling on leaders to show "courage" to achieve a peace based on a two-state solution.
"The time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable," he said in the Judean town of Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born. "The time has come for everyone to find the courage... to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgement by all of the right of two states to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognised borders."
Although Francis himself has said it will be a "purely religious trip," both Israel and the PA will be looking to use the visit to score a few political points.
The Vatican said the main reason for the visit was a meeting in Jerusalem with Bartholomew I, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, seeking to heal a nearly 1,000-year rift between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.
But ahead of the trip, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin defended the Palestinian Arabs' right to a "sovereign and independent" homeland and said he hoped Francis's visit would lead to "courageous decisions" for peace.
Travelling with the Argentine pontiff are two of his old friends from Buenos Aires - Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Islamic studies professor Omar Abboud - in a symbolic gesture of openness.
"I don't think the visit is going to bring the signing of a peace deal tomorrow... but I am sure that it will make a substantial contribution, because the pope respects all cultures and all religions," Peres told French daily Le Figaro.