Cardinal Beshara Rai, head of the Maronite Catholic Church, center, arrives to visit a church in Jaffa, Israel, Monday, May 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
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Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai crossed the Green Line Monday, leaving occupied Palestine and becoming the first Lebanese religious leader to enter the Jewish state since its creation in 1948 . After meeting with Palestinian Maronites and officials in the West Bank, Rai is set to visit Maronites in north Israel, including Lebanese exiles. The cardinal is on a weeklong visit to the Holy Land. He spent the first two days in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Israel occupied in the 1967 war, but Monday ventured into Israel for the first time. Later in the week, Rai plans to meet with parishioners in northern Israel and celebrate Mass for Lebanese Christians who fought alongside Israeli troops during Israel's occupation of south Lebanon.Rai's visit overlapped with a Holy Land pilgrimage Sunday and Monday by Francis.
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