Middle East

Peres to head to Vatican for peace prayer

Israel's President Shimon Peres stands with Pope Francis during a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv May 25, 2014. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli President Shimon Peres is expected to head to the Vatican Sunday to take part in an interfaith peace prayer.

The visit comes at an invitation Pope Francis extended to Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when he visited the region last month.

Abbas, currently visiting Cairo, will fly to the Vatican after attending the inauguration of Egypt's President-elect Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

During the Vatican event, Jewish and Christian religious leaders will read out excepts from both the Bible and the Talmud, while a Muslim imam will read verses from the Quran in the presence of Pope Francis and the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, according to Israel Radio.

The pontiff had indicated that his peace prayer invitation was religious and not political in nature.

Palestinian-Israeli peace talks hit a snag in April after Israel refused to release Palestinian prisoners as pledged.

In response, Abbas applied for membership in several United Nations agencies and treaties.

The Israeli government immediately took punitive measures against the Palestinians, including suspending the transfer of tax revenue it collects on behalf of the PA under the 1993 Oslo Accords.





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