Pope Francis arrives in Israel to state welcome

President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu greeted Pope Francis I with warm speeches, a guard of honor and the two national anthems, when he landed by helicopter at Ben Gurion airport Sunday afternoon from a visit to Bethlehem. Thanking the president, the prime minister and the people of Israel for their welcome, Francis underlined his message of peace, inviting Peres and the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to join him at the Vatican for a common prayer for peace. He said that while Israel has the right to live in peace and security within international recognized borders, so too does the Palestinian people have he right to a sovereign state. He denounced anti-Semitism and intolerance in all its forms. An IDF helicopter then carried the Pope to Mt Scopus landing site to embark on his next engagement: an ecumenical prayer at the Church of the Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem.


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