Pope, Israeli Prime Minister Talk of Peace

NAZARETH, Israel, MAY 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Though Holy See policy on the Middle East is at odds with that of the Israeli prime minister, Benedict XVI met with the leader today and discussed how to advance the peace process.

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Benjamin Netanyahu met with the Pope today for a 15-minute private talk in a Franciscan convent in Nazareth.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, reported that the discussion “centered on how the peace process can be advanced.”

Netanyahu does not back the idea of an independent Palestinian state in the Middle East.

Benedict XVI, for his part, affirmed to Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday that “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.”

Still, Netanyahu expressed satisfaction with the visit on Israeli television. He said that he asked the Pope for support in the situation with Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the end of the Israeli state.

The Israel-Holy See Bilateral Permanent Working Commission also met for about 20 minutes, continuing their discussions on the 1993 Fundamental Agreement.

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