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Sunday
May252014

Pope Continues Middle East Trip, Invites Israeli, Palestinian Leaders to Pray at Vatican

Credit: Rami Dagga(WEST BANK, Israel) -- Pope Francis spent Sunday morning in the West Bank before continuing his Middle East trip in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

In remarks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Francis spoke about the good relations between the papacy and "the state of Palestine," a distinction that the Israeli government disagrees with. According to the Vatican, the term was used because the United Nations granted Palestine "Non-Member Observer State" status in 2012.

The U.S. does not recognize the term, but 70 United Nations member nations do.

After a ride through Bethlehem, the pope stopped at the Israeli-constructed "Barrier Wall."

Later in the day, in a surprise move, the pope invited Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres "to join [him] in a heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace." He added that he would "offer [his] home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer."


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