Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for “freedom in our sovereign and independent state” during a prayer for peace with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Pope Francis.
Vatican officials had called the June 8 service at the Vatican a “pause in politics” with no political intentions.
Abbas, Peres and the pope planted an olive tree in the Vatican Gardens following prayers by Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders and invocations by the three leaders. They then entered the Vatican for a private meeting.
In his invocation, Abbas spoke about the importance of Jerusalem to the Palestinian people and thanked God for blessing the Palestinians with Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus.
Along with speaking of a sovereign and independent state, the Palestinian leader asked Allah for “a comprehensive and just peace for our country and our region.”
Peres said in his invocation: “I was young and became old. I experienced war, I tasted peace. Never will I forget the bereaved families — parents and children — who paid the cost of war. And all my life I shall never stop to act for peace, for the sake of the generations to come. Let us all join hands and make it happen.”
The pope made the invitation following the celebration of Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem during his visit last month to the Palestinian West Bank city. The offer came a month after the collapse of nine months of U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. — jta