Pope Francis Arrives in Israel After West Bank Visit

Image: getty images

Pope Francis has landed in Israel for a two-day visit.

The pope arrived Sunday afternoon at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport via a helicopter ride from Bethlehem, where he spent the morning. Francis will depart Israel on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres greeted the pope upon arrival, accompanied by a band playing “Jerusalem of Gold.”

“You have arrived in the State of Israel where today members of different religions and nationalities live together – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druse and Circassians,” said Peres in an address upon the pope’s arrival. “Israel is a Jewish and democratic state where coexistence in peace is implemented, and a state that aspires for peace with all its neighbors. Even if peace calls for sacrifices, the sacrifices of peace are preferable to the threat of war.”

In Israel, the pope will visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, as well as several holy sites in Jerusalem — including the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Cenacle in Jerusalem, the traditional site of Jesus’ Last Supper. Jews consider the site to be King David’s burial place. He will also sign a joint declaration with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, who heads the Eastern Orthodox Christian church.

In Bethlehem Sunday, the pope called for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and referred to the “state of Palestine.” He also called for peace in a speech upon arriving in Israel.

“All of us must become the builders and constructors of this peace,” he says. “All men and women of this land, and the world at large, are asking us to work towards peace.”

He also invited Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican next month for a prayer summit for peace. Peres and Abbas have accepted the invitation, according to reports, despite Israel’s suspension of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority last month.

Written by


Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Pope Francis Arrives in Israel After West Bank Visit

Thank you!

This article has been sent!