.- Pope Benedict XVI expressed the urgent need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a June 3 audience at the Vatican.
“A central issue of the cordial conversations was the troubled situation in the Holy Land. Particular stress was laid on the urgent need to find a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one capable of ensuring respect for the rights of all and, therefore, the attainment of the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for an independent State,” reported the Vatican press office.
The leaders also discussed the aspiration for both Israel and Palestine to enjoy security and be at peace with neighboring countries, as well as within internationally recognized borders. “In this framework, with the support of the international community and in a spirit of cooperation and openness to reconciliation, the Holy Land will come to know peace.”
“Reference was also made in the meetings to the situation of the Christian communities in the Palestinian Territories and the Middle East in general, and mention was made of their irreplaceable contribution to the building up of society,” the Vatican added.
On May 19 President Obama called on the two sides to agree to negotiations that would begin with the borders that existed before the Six Day War in 1967, along with land swaps. But the plan was flatly rejected by visiting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during a heated meeting at the White House.
This coming September, Palestinian leaders plan to ask the United Nations to recognize their statehood. That move will be sure to put the spotlight on the tensions between Israel and Palestine and is a prospect that the Obama administration is seeking to avoid.