Israel should exit, Palestinians deserve homeland: Pope

By Alaa al-Rimawi, Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pope Francis of the Vatican on Sunday said that Israel has the right to existence and the Palestinians have the right to a homeland.

Pope Francis of the Vatican on Sunday said that Israel has the right to existence and the Palestinians have the right to a homeland.

JERUSALEM – Pope Francis of the Vatican on Sunday said that Israel has the right to existence and the Palestinians have the right to a homeland.

"The right of the State of Israel to exist and to flourish in peace and security within internationally recognized borders must be universally recognized," Pope Francis said after arrival at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport.

"At the same time, there must also be recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign homeland and their right to live with dignity and with freedom of movement," he added.

"The two-state solution must become reality and not remain merely a dream," said the pontiff who was welcomed at the airport by Israeli Premier Bemjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

Pope Francis lamented that Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) remains in the heart of a continuing conflict.

"Jerusalem, of course, means 'city of peace.' This is what God wills it to be, and such is the desire of all people of good will," he said.

"Yet sadly Jerusalem remains deeply troubled as a result of longstanding conflicts," added the pontiff.

Pope Francis wrapped up a visit to the central West Bank city of Bethlehem earlier today, during which he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

He has invited Abbas and Peres to visit the Vatican and join him in praying for peace.

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