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Pope calls on Israelis and Palestinians to re-activate direct dialogue during meeting with Palestinian Authority President

by Donna Birrell

The Pope has been meeting the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a private audience at the Vatican. 

The Pope and the President spoke about the need to promote human fraternity and peaceful co-existence among various faiths, as well as the goal of a two-state solution in the Holy Land.

The Holy See Press Office says their discussions were "cordial" and emphasized the good relations between the State of Palestine and the Holy See :

"With regard to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, it was stressed that it is absolutely necessary to reactivate direct dialogue in order to achieve a two-state solution, also with the help of more vigorous effort on the part of the international community."

Pope Francis and President Abbas also noted that "Jerusalem must be recognized by all as a place of encounter and not of conflict, and that its status must preserve its identity and universal value as a Holy City for all three Abrahamic religions, also through a special internationally guaranteed status"

The two leaders then spoke about the "urgency of working for peace, avoiding the use of weapons, and combating all forms of extremism and fundamentalism"

Pope Francis gifted Mr. Abbas a bronze plaque of two hands in a friendly grip, depicting the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, a woman with a child, a refugee boat, and the words (in Italian) 'Let us fill our hands with other hands' emblazoned on the bottom of the plaque.

The Pope also gave the president a book of papal documents and copies of his message for peace for this year, the Document on Human Fraternity.

President Abbas gifted the Pope a book on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and a representation of the Grotto of the Nativity in amber.

President Abbas met separately with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

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