.- The path to peace in the Middle East could take a fortuitous turn today as leaders from 40 different organizations and nations meet in Annapolis, Maryland to forge a way forward. Pope Benedict XVI has added his support to bring “a just and definitive solution” to the conflict and is sending a delegation to the summit.
Holy See Press Office director, Fr. Federico Lombardi announced today that the delegation from the Holy See is made up of Msgr. Pietro Parolin, under-secretary for Relations with States, and Msgr. Francesco Coppola, nunciature counselor.
The Pope has also been pushing for peace on the spiritual front. This past Sunday, he encouraged the faithful to join the Day of Prayer called by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to ask for peace in the Holy Land and for "the gifts of wisdom and courage for all participants in this important meeting."
In Annapolis, the Holy Father said on Sunday, "Israelis and Palestinians, with the help of the international community, aim to re-launch the negotiating process in order to find a just and definitive solution to the conflict which, for the last 60 years, has bloodied the Holy Land and brought so many tears and so much suffering to the two peoples."
Both Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas have expressed their hope that the conference will bring a positive outcome.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he thinks the likelihood of a good outcome is better than before: "This time it's different because we are going to have lots of participants in what I hope will launch a serious process of negotiations between us and the Palestinians," Olmert said at the White House on Monday.
According to CNS News, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas also has hope for the summit. He said that the conference is an "historic initiative," and that the Palestinians had "a great deal of hope" that the one-day meeting would produce "expanded negotiations, overall permanent status issues that would lead to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian people."