Pope Francis Calls For End To Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

During his three-day trip to the Middle East, the Pope promoted peace and unity and called for an end to the "unacceptable" conflict in the Holy Land.
Posted at 11:32 AM, May 25, 2014

The Vatican has billed the Pope’s visit to the Holy Land as strictly religious but Francis didn’t leave out politics entirely — calling for an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The trip was part of the Pope's three-day visit to the Middle East with the purpose of improving ties with the Orthodox Church. (Via ABC)

BBC reports Palestinians were pleased he was the first Pope to travel directly to the Palestinian territories rather than passing through Israel first — a move some analysts consider his way of recognizing the Palestinian state.

And notably, the Pope has referred to the region as "the State of Palestine" — a term both the U.S. and Israel reject.

"If you talk to his aides, they say that he visited with the head of the State of Palestine, President Mahmoud Abbas​. And he's also spent time to highlight the plight of Palestinians." (Via Al Jazeera)

Israel has historically opposed Palestinian efforts to seek statehood, and Palestine, in turn, has refused to recognize the Jewish state. (via CBS)

But as CNN notes, the Pontiff called for both sides to band together to find peace in what he calls an "unacceptable" conflict.   

He added, "I can only express my profound hope that all will refrain from initiatives and actions which contradict the stated desire to reach a true agreement, and that peace will be pursued."

Now, the official purpose of the trip is for Pope Francis to mend ties with the Orthodox church and promote Christian unity. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, Pope Francis pushed for more Christian communities in an area where Christians face difficulties for their beliefs and often flee to neighboring countries.

Pope Francis' first leg of his trip began in Jordan with many Christian refugees in attendance when he called attention to Syria's ongoing civil war and urged for a peaceful solution to the crisis. (Via Rome Reports)

Meanwhile, many Jews have been protesting on holy site Mount Zion, the location the Jewish faith believes to be King David's final resting place, and Christians see as the site where Jesus held his Last Supper. (Via Flickr / israeltourism)

The Times Of Israel reports those protests have taken an anti-Christian undertone ahead of the Pope's impending visit and planned mass Sunday, and restraining orders were issued to ease tensions.

Pope Francis is set to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Tel Aviv before continuing on to Jerusalem where he will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the unity of the Catholic and Orthodox churches.