Pope Benedict XVI met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday afternoon at the Franciscan Convent in Nazareth and spoke about ways to advance the peace process.
The meeting began with a 15 minute one-on-one discussion between the Pope and Netanyahu, in which they discussed the peace process.
Following the Pope and prime minister’s discussion, delegations from the Vatican and Israel met for 20 minutes about the fundamental agreement that has been under discussion for some time. The agreement concerns tax exemptions church institutions, the granting of religious visas for priests and religious and the protection of Christians and their holy sites.
According to the Vatican’s spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Pope told the prime minister in their private meeting about his discussions on how to bring peace to the region with Jordan’s King Abdullah II .
Netanyahu also visited with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak on Monday and earlier on Thursday made the short flight to Jordan to speak with King Abdullah II. During their short talk, Israel’s prime minister told the Pope about his meeting with Mubarak, Fr. Lombardi said.
“The king demanded the Israeli government declare its commitment to the two-state solution, accept the Arab peace initiative and take practical steps to achieve progress,” King Abdullah’s office said after the meeting.
“The international community has agreed there is no alternative … and any other solution is unacceptable because it will not achieve a just peace, creating more conflict,” the statement said, according to the BBC.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with President Obama on May 18, when Obama is expected to press Israel to commit to a two-state solution.