Pope Benedict XVI, nearing the end of his eight-day tour of Middle Eastern holy sites, has offered his support for an independent Palestinian state, believing such a move would help end the violence that has existed between Palestinians and Israelis.
On Wednesday the Pope celebrated Mass in Bethlehem in front of a congregation made up of thousands of Palestinian Christians as well as Christian Pilgrims who made the journey from all over the world to witness the historical event.
Pope Benedict XVI was able to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival in Bethlehem and at a news conference from Abbas’ residence the Pope expressed his desire to see an independent Palestinian state. During the news conference the Pope stated, “The Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbors, within internationally recognized borders.”
While the Pope has issued his support for a Palestinian state his sentiments are not exactly held by Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to endorse such a move. The Pope is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu on Thursday and the subject of Palestine will almost certainly be discussed.
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