Washington: Pope Francis has invited Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the Vatican for a ‘peace initiative’.
Pope extended the invitation after earlier calling for a two-state solution to the intractable conflict.
According to CNN, the pontiff’s remarks came at the end of an outdoor Mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square on the second day of his three-day trip to the Middle East.
Francis said that he was inviting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas along with Israeli President Shimon Peres to the Vatican for peace talks.
He added that building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment. The men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace.
A Palestinian Legislative Council member, Hanan Ashrawi, said that the Palestinian side has accepted the invitation and Abbas will go to the Vatican.
Peres’ office said that the president has welcomed the invitation, as he has always supported, and will continue to support, any attempts to progress the cause of peace.
Pope Francis also reiterated the Vatican’s support for Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.
According to the report, earlier, speaking alongside Abbas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Francis called for the recognition of a Palestinian state, but he made the same demand on behalf of the state of Israel.
The Pope called on all sides to pursue a path to peace together and not take unilateral actions to disrupt it.