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Israeli hate crimes 'poison atmosphere' for papal visit: patriarch

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Twal, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land, leads the Sunday mass at the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank biblical town of Bethlehem, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, as preparations for Christmas celebrations get underway on December 15, 2013. AFP PHOTO/MUSA AL-SHAER

HAIFA, Israel: The head of the Roman Catholic church in the Holy Land said Sunday Israeli hate crimes against local Muslims and Christians are souring relations ahead of a forthcoming papal visit.

"The unrestrained acts of vandalism poison the atmosphere...especially in these two weeks prior to the visit of Pope Francis," Patriarch Fuad Twal told a news conference in Haifa.

"It is also a blight on the democracy that Israel ascribes to itself," he said.

 

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