BEIRUT

Middle East

Abbas, Peres accept Pope's invite to the Vatican

Pope Francis walks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival to the West Bank city of Bethlehem May 25, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Medichini/Pool

BETHLEHEM, Palestine: Pope Francis on Sunday invited the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to come to the Vatican to pray for peace a month after U.S.-backed talks aimed at ending the Middle East conflict collapsed.

"In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace," the pope said at a Mass in Bethlehem.

"I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer," Francis said, in what Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi described as an unprecedented papal initiative.

"All of us - especially those placed at the service of their respective peoples - have the duty to become instruments and artisans of peace, especially by our prayers," the pope said. "Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment."

The offices of the Israeli and Palestinian presidents later confirmed that they had accepted the Pope's invitation to visit the Vatican together next month.

The 90-year-old Peres, who is stepping down this summer, has been a fervent supporter of Mideast peace efforts. His decision risks upsetting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is angry about outreach efforts by other politicians at a time when Abbas is reconciling with the Islamic militant group Hamas.

The invitation to "men of good will", Lombardi said, "is one of the signs of the courage and creativity of Pope Francis in his efforts to bring about peace".

Netanyahu broke off peace talks last month after Abbas signed a reconciliation deal with one of Israel's most bitter enemies, the Hamas Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here