Middle East

Pope calls Peres, Abbas to urge peace

A Palestinian man stands in the rubble of a house after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City July 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis phoned Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Friday to call for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza conflict, the Vatican said.

Francis "reminded the presidents" about the need "to bring an end to hostilities, making efforts to promote a truce, peace and reconciliation in the hearts of those involved", read a statement from the Vatican.

"The Holy Father Francis personally telephoned President Shimon Peres and President Mahmoud Abbas to share his very serious concerns regarding the current situation," it said.

The Vatican said Francis considered Abbas and Peres to be "men of peace and seekers of peace" and told them the conflict was "giving rise to a serious humanitarian emergency."

Abbas and Peres attended an unprecedented joint prayer for peace with Francis in the Vatican Gardens last month, which followed the pope's visit to the Middle East in May.

Francis had called Sunday for "concrete gestures to build peace" and referred to his June 8 prayer with Abbas and Peres.

"Some people might think that such a meeting was in vain. But this is not the case because prayer helps us not to be conquered by evil," he said then.





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