Pope Francis dipped his toes into Israel-Palestine politics during day two of his visit to the Middle East region today, addressing the current stalled peace process as "unacceptable" and calling for a two-state solution with internationally recognized borders.
"The time has come to put an end to this situation that has become increasingly unacceptable," Pope Francis said while standing beside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a welcome ceremony in the West Bank town. "The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in service of the common good."
After landing in Israel for the last leg of his pilgrimage through the Holy Land, Pope Francis lamented that Jerusalem "remains deeply troubled as a result of longstanding conflicts," and relayed his hope of finding a "just and lasting solution" to provide peace and security in the region, according to the Associated Press.
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The pontiff also stressed that both parties would have to make sacrifices to keep the peace and create two states with boundaries recognized by the wider international community, and established on rights and security for all.
Dear friends, please pray for me during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex)May 24, 2014
Abbas also voiced his hopes for peace in his remarks, and told Francis: "Your visit is loaded with symbolic meaning as a defender of the poor and the marginalized."
Earlier, Israel's president, Shimon Peres, praised Pope Francis' delivery, saying: "You carry a message of brotherhood among peoples, and friendship for all."
The pontiff extended a surprise invitation to both Israeli and Palestinian presidents to attend a symbolic meeting at the Vatican to pray for peace next month, which was quickly accepted by both parties.
Pope Francis also marked the historic visit in prayer at the graffiti-covered concrete of Israel's "separation wall" during an unscheduled stop through Bethlehem.
The pontiff also took the opportunity to condemn Saturday's museum shooting in Brussels, which killed three people, including two Israelis, as a "criminal act of anti-Semitic hatred."
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"With a deeply pained heart, I think of those who have lost their lives in the cruel attack that occurred yesterday in Brussels," he said. "I entrust the victims to God's mercy and invoke recovery for the injured."
Pope Francis is on the final leg of his three-day Mideast tour, which started with a visit to Jordan on Saturday. He will attend Israel's national Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, on Monday.
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