.- This morning, in the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received the president of Israel, Shimon Peres in an audience. The Pope encouraged the president to take advantage of the present favorable conditions to resolve the conflict which has lasted for 60 years.
Pope Benedict expressed hope that given the recent renewal of contact between Israel and Palestine and the international conference scheduled for next November that the long-lasting crisis can be resolved.
He called on the Israelis and Palestinians to “make every effort to respond to the expectations of their peoples, sorely tried by a crisis that has lasted for 60 years and that continues to inflict mourning and destruction.”
On Wednesday, Peres told the AP that recent meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the flurry of diplomatic activity in the Middle East could be the most promising developments yet in efforts to bring peace to the region.
During the his visit to the Vatican, President Peres also renewed an invitation for the Holy Father to visit the Holy Land, but the Vatican said that while Pope Benedict wants to visit, “this will only be possible when there is lasting peace or at least a solid truce between Israelis and Palestinians.”
A meeting was also held between the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Israeli president. Their conversation centered around the continuing relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See, particularly in regard to property taxes that the Israeli government levies on the Church, which is one of the major land owners in the region.