May 15, 2009 / 04:46 am
Pope Benedict made the strongest appeal for peace of his entire trip as he prepared to depart for Rome on Friday. During his farewell speech at the Ben Gurion International Airport, the Pope stressed the need for universal recognition of Israel's right to exist and the Palestinians' “right to a sovereign independent homeland.”
President Shimon Peres, who delivered a speech before the Pope, said the trip “constituted a significant contribution to the new relations between the Vatican and Jerusalem.”
“I hope that your visit enabled you and your delegation to experience the traits of our land... above all the sincere aspiration for peace shared by all Israelis—peace with our neighbors, peace with distant enemies, peace for all,” Peres said.
The Israeli president also added that “today's political and spiritual leaders face a profound challenge: how to divorce religion from terror. How to prevent terrorists from hijacking the religious conscience by cloaking an act of terrorism in the false guise of a religious mission.”
Peres argued that because of Pope Benedict's “great spiritual leadership” he can “help people to recognize that God is not in the hearts of terrorists.”