Pope supports Palestinian state

May 13th, 2009 - 1:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Bethlehem, May 13(DPA) Pope Benedict XVI expressed strong and unequivocal support for a Palestinian state Wednesday, as he arrived in Bethlehem in the West Bank.
The pontiff, greeted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also urged young Palestinians to renounce violence against Israelis.

“Mr President, the Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbours, within internationally recognised borders,” the Pope said at an official welcoming ceremony at Abbas’ Bethlehem presidential palace.

He also expressed solidarity with the Palestinians, saying “I know how much you have suffered”, and with Palestinian refugees, saying: “My heart goes out to all the families who have been left homeless. This afternoon I will pay a visit to the Aida Refugee Camp, in order to express my solidarity with the people who have lost so much.”

Benedict also voiced “deep compassion” with Palestinians who lost loved ones in Israel’s recent Gaza offence, and asked for international assistance in reconstructing Gaza.

In a reference to Israeli military roadblocks in the occupied territories, he said he hoped improved security would allow “greater freedom of movement” for the Palestinians.

But he urged Palestinians not to use to violence and terrorism to achieve their national aspirations.

“I make this appeal to the many young people throughout the Palestinian Territories today: do not allow the loss of life and the destruction that you have witnessed to arouse bitterness or resentment in your hearts. Have the courage to resist any temptation you may feel to resort to acts of violence or terrorism,” he said.

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