File - Patriarch Beshara Rai speaks during a mass held in Roumieh, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Wednesday Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai's plans to visit occupied Jerusalem later this month, saying it did not indicate normalization of ties with Israel.A statement from Abbas' office said the Palestinian leader telephoned Rai praising his upcoming visit, and added that it contributes to solidifying the Arabness of Jerusalem and Palestine and bolsters Muslim-Christian brotherhood. Rai will accompany Pope Francis on his visit to the Holy Land. Some Lebanese have criticized Rai's planned trip, saying it could be seen as a bid to normalize ties with Israel, which is technically in a state of war with Lebanon.
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