Pope Francis has called on Israel and the Palestinians to restart direct negotiations to work towards a two-state solution to the Middle East peace process. He also insisted that only peaceful means can bring about a just settlement to the conflict.
The Pontiff made the remarks this morning (Thursday) while receiving in audience at the Vatican Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).
A communique from the Holy See Press Office following the meeting stressed the Pope’s view that “it is absolutely necessary to reactivate direct dialogue in order to achieve a two-state solution” with Israel and a viable Palestinian state.
He told Mr Abbas (85) that this requires “the help of a more vigorous effort on the part of the international community”.
In relation to the city of Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians views as a capital city, the communique said that during the meeting “it was reiterated that Jerusalem must be recognised by all as a place of encounter and not of conflict, and that its status must preserve its identity and universal value as a holy city for all three Abrahamic religions, also through a special internationally guaranteed status”.
The statement said that during the meeting “finally, attention turned to the urgency of working for peace, avoiding the use of weapons, and combating all forms of extremism and fundamentalism”.
Following the meeting with Pope Francis, Mr Abbas – also known as Abu Mazen – met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States.
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