Pope Francis in his traditional Christmas address on Monday called for peace in Jerusalem.
Thousands gathered at the Vatican to hear the pontiff’s fifth “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and The World) message, delivered hours after a Christmas Eve mass where he spoke on how migrants had been “driven from their land” because of leaders willing to shed “innocent blood”.
Francis sought “peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land”, saying “We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians”.
“Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognised borders.
“May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by good will to help that afflicted land to find, despite grave obstacles the harmony, justice and security that it has long awaited,” the pope said.
The pontiff also mentioned other global flashpoints such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and Venezuela, after stressing that the “winds of war are blowing in our world”.
“Let us pray that confrontation may be overcome on the Korean peninsula and that mutual trust may increase in the interest of the world as a whole,” the 81-year-old urged.
Recall that US President Donald Trump, earlier in December, recognized the city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It’s the right thing to do”, he said.
Trump has also kicked off the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, making good on a campaign promise dear to evangelical Christian and right-wing Jewish voters – as well as donors.
He said his decision marked the start of a “new approach” to solving the thorny conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Trump recently threatened to cut aid to nations that voted against the US at the UN.
Meanwhile, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has ordered move of the country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Last week, Guatemala was one of only nine nations to vote against a United Nations (UN) resolution urging America to reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In a Facebook post, Morales said the decision was taken after he had spoken with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.