Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


All eyes on Pope's Israel visit

19 May 2014, 09:33

Jerusalem - When Pope Francis arrives in the Holy Land he will step into a political powder keg, with Israelis and Palestinians seeking to chalk up political points from his visit.

For Israel, increasingly isolated in the world over its relentless settlement juggernaut, it will be a chance to bask in the reflected glow of the pope's aura of tolerance.

"The very fact of the visit is a success", an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"Hopefully, it will encourage pilgrims to visit here."

In fact, the pope's "pilgrimage of prayer", which begins in Jordan on Saturday, will leave a relatively faint footprint in Israel.

His visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories will kick off on Sunday in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem.

"He is taking a helicopter directly from Jordan to Palestine, to Bethlehem. It's a kind of sign of recognising Palestine", Father Jamal Khader of the Latin patriarchate in Jerusalem told journalists.

'Highly charged'

In Bethlehem, the pope will meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and then celebrate mass in front of the Church of the Nativity, traditional birthplace of Jesus, before visiting a nearby refugee camp.

"Knowing who he is, and his sensitivity for all those who suffer, I am sure that he will say something defending all those who are suffering, including the Palestinians who live under occupation", Khader said.

After a short flight to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport where he will be greeted by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he will hold a top-level meeting with Orthodox Church leaders, before spending the night in the residence of the papal nuncio in annexed east Jerusalem.

Israel seized east Jerusalem in 1967 and calls the entire city its "united, undivided capital", in a move never recognised by the international community.

It is there that he will spend much of 26 May, apart from brief forays into Israel to pay his respects at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and visit Peres and Israel's two chief rabbis.

He will meet Netanyahu at the Vatican-owned Notre Dame complex, which lies on the seam line between east and west Jerusalem, for talks which will touch on politics, an Israeli official said.

"We shall be able to explain to him, from our point of view, what's happening politically in the region", he said.

"We shall explain to him the Iranian threat."

During the visit, the pope is expected to call for a peaceful resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians.

Any reference he makes to Israeli settlements, to the West Bank separation barrier, or to the question of Palestinian prisoners or refugees will be closely watched by both sides.

"Everything will be highly charged politically", said Hind Khoury, a former Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs.

Following the collapse of US-led peace talks last month, the Palestinians have resumed moves to seek recognition for their promised state in the international diplomatic arena and will be looking to the papal visit to provide fresh ammunition.

"This visit will help us in supporting our struggle to end the longest occupation in history", said Ziyyad Bandak, Abbas's advisor for Christian affairs.

"He will have a lunch with Palestinians, with families suffering from the occupation, then he will visit Dheishe refugee camp to witness the suffering of Palestinian refugees", he told Voice of Palestine radio.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...