.- Pope Benedict XVI reiterated his stand on the rights of Israel and Palestine to be sovereign and mutually-respecting nations Monday morning to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps. He had expressed his appeal to the two countries to enter into dialogue and find a way to respect their respective rights on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land last May.
First, he called for "a universal recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist and to enjoy peace and security within internationally recognized borders," and then he added, "likewise, the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign and independent homeland, to live in dignity and to enjoy freedom of movement, ought to be recognized."
The Pontiff also made a request to the international community for "the protection of the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem, and of its cultural and religious heritage, which is of universal value."
The plea comes just days after another "working-level" session was held between delegates from the Holy See and the State of Israel, who have been attempting since 1993 to come to an agreement concerning the official rights of the Catholic Church to property in the Holy Land.
Benedict XVI said that only with this protection "will this unique city, holy yet deeply troubled, be a sign and foreshadowing of that peace which God desires for the whole human family."