Pope Francis calls for urgent Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after Jenin operation

The Pope issued the plea during his weekly Sunday address at the Vatican


Pope Francis speaks during the weekly general audience on June 7, 2023 at St. Peter's square as in The Vatican. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

Pope Francis has urgently called on Israel and Palestinian authorities to hold "peace and reconciliation" talks.

The Pope issued the plea amid heightened tensions in the West Bank following a series of deadly Palestinian terrorist attacks.

Eighteen Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers have been killed in the West Bank since July 3. The majority of these were during a two-day Israeli raid on the northern city of Jenin, the largest operation of its kind in years.

During his weekly address to a crowd gathered in the Vatican’s St Peter's Square, he said: “With sorrow, I learned again that blood has been poured out in the Holy Land. 

“I hope that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders can resume direct dialogue to bring an end to the spiral of violence and open paths of reconciliation and peace.”

The head of the Catholic church previously made similar remarks after the 2021 Israel-Palestine crisis. The conflict, which took place between May 6 and 21, saw attacks on Israel by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. 

Speaking in May 2021, he urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders “to stop the clamour of arms and to walk the path of peace, with the help of the international community."

He called for “unceasing” prayer for Israelis and Palestinians to “find the path of dialogue and forgiveness, to be patient builders of peace and justice, opening up, step-by-step, to a common hope, to coexistence between brothers.”

It comes as the Pope announced that he had chosen 21 new cardinals, including prelates from Jerusalem and Hong Kong - places where Catholics are a small minority - as he continues to leave his mark on the group of priests who will elect his successor.

The pope announced his picks during his customary weekly appearance to the public in St Peter's Square, saying the ceremony to formally install the priests as cardinals will be held on September 30.

In announcing their names, Francis said the appointment of cardinals from across the globe "expresses the universality of the Church that continues to announce the merciful love of God to all men of the Earth."

Among the names was the Vatican's top official in the Middle East, Monsignor Pierbattista Pizzaballa.

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