Pope asks Israel’s president at Vatican to restart talks with Palestinians

Marcy Oster

ROME (JTA) — Pope Francis asked Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to “reactivate” direct negotiations with the Palestinians during their meeting at the Vatican.

Rivlin was welcomed for his one-hour audience Thursday morning by the pope and the Vatican’s secretary of state, Pietro Parolin.

The meeting in the pope’s private library focused on issues regarding the future of the Middle East, the fight against terrorism, attacks on Christian sites in Israel, and on bilateral agreements between the Vatican and the State of Israel.

Francis said he hoped that the Israelis and Palestinians in the future would “seek that which unites and to overcome that which divides.”

In the afternoon, Rivlin was welcomed by his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella, at the Quirinal Palace. The Israeli was scheduled to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome on Thursday night to meet with the president of the city’s Jewish community, Ruth Dureghello; its chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni; and the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Renzo Gattegna.

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