Benedict XVI Encourages Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Appeals for a Secure Homeland for All Peoples

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TEL AVIV, Israel, MAY 11, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is emphasizing the need to cease conflicts in the Holy Land and find a peaceful, just solution that affords a secure home for all peoples.

The Pope said this today in an address upon arriving from Jordan to Israel’s Tel Aviv International airport, where he was greeted by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the civil authorities and bishops of the Holy Land.

The Pontiff affirmed that the three great monotheistic religions — Christianity, Judaism and Islam — share a “special veneration” of Jerusalem.

He expressed the “earnest” hope that “all pilgrims to the holy places will be able to access them freely and without restraint, to take part in religious ceremonies and to promote the worthy upkeep of places of worship on sacred sites.”

“Even though the name Jerusalem means ‘city of peace,'” the Holy Father noted, “it is all too evident that, for decades, peace has tragically eluded the inhabitants of this holy land.”

“The eyes of the world are upon the peoples of this region as they struggle to achieve a just and lasting solution to conflicts that have caused so much suffering,” he affirmed.

Benedict XVI asserted, “The hopes of countless men, women and children for a more secure and stable future depend on the outcome of negotiations for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

He continued: “In union with people of good will everywhere, I plead with all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties, so that both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own, within secure and internationally recognized borders.

“In this regard, I hope and pray that a climate of greater trust can soon be created that will enable the parties to make real progress along the road to peace and stability.”

The Pontiff urged the Christian communities in the Holy Land, “By your faithful witness to him who preached forgiveness and reconciliation, by your commitment to uphold the sacredness of every human life, you can make a particular contribution to ending the hostilities that for so long have afflicted this land.”

For his part, President Peres addressed the Pope, welcoming him to Israel and recognizing this apostolic visit as a “mission of peace.”

He affirmed, “We have made peace with Egypt and Jordan, and we are in negotiations to make peace with the Palestinians, and even to arrive at a comprehensive regional peace.”

The Holy Father’s visit, which will last through Friday, “brings a blessed understanding between religions and spreads peace near and far,” said Peres.

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