Pope Francis defends Jerusalem 'status quo'

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Pope Francis, speaking to Palestinians ahead of US President Donald Trump's announcement on Jerusalem, said on Wednesday "recognising the rights of all people" in the Holy Land is a primary condition for dialogue.

"At the same time, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for everyone's commitment to respect the city's status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations resolutions", Pope Francis said to his weekly general audience.

Trump also plans to sign a waiver delaying the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, senior administration officials said. Moreover - similar steps could be interpreted as a clear signal for the rejection of Washington's two-state solution to the conflict in the region.

Pope Francis, who had returned to the Vatican late the night before after a six-day trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, also used his midday address as an opportunity to thank everyone who had prayed for the trip's success and everyone who had a hand in organizing it.

As Breitbart News reported on Tuesday, Arab, Muslim and European Union leaders have voiced their opposition to the move, suggesting it could create turmoil in the area.

"I ask the Lord that this identity be preserved and reinforced for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension in a global panorama already convulsed and marked by so many cruel conflicts", he said.


Because of this, he said the city has "a special vocation for peace".

In his comments to the group, Francis expressed his hope for "peace and prosperity" for the Palestinian people and called for dialogue that respects the rights of everyone in the Holy Land.

He added that Israel must not allow its own interests to "disrupt what the United Nations has repeated many times, and what has also been the logical and coherent position of the Holy See for all the past decades".

"They came to the Vatican with the intention of establishing a joint working group".

Similarly, he said his November 30-Dec.

Religious freedom was a major theme, as reflected in each of his meetings, he said, and underlined the importance of "openness of the heart as the basis for the culture of encounter, harmony and peace".

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