The threat of triumph
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Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai's trip to occupied Jerusalem has divided opinion among Lebanon's Christians, but will not have negative repercussions in the long term, analysts said Monday.Rai confirmed last week that he would join Pope Francis on a trip to occupied Jerusalem later this month, becoming the first head of Lebanon's Maronite Church to visit Israel since it was founded in 1948 .According to Saad, the situation could be evaluated through the country's political position, and the fact that the majority of Lebanese and Palestinian politicians have not openly admonished Rai for the trip.According to As-Safir, Palestinian opinion was divided over whether Rai should make the trip.USJ's Nader cited further differences between Sfeir and Rai.Rai, on the other hand, visited Damascus last year and met with Syrian officials.Rai was following this tradition, Nader said.The most important goal of the pope and Rai's visit was to show that Christians have a "stake in Jerusalem," he said, and to confirm the international status of the city.He also said it would have positive effects on Christians in the Middle East, and would make the Palestinian Christians feel "valued".But he acknowledged that from a political perspective, Rai was likely to be heavily criticized.
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