Don’t meet Arab mayor, minister asks pope

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s tourism minister will ask Pope Benedict XVI to cancel a meeting with the mayor of an Arab-Israeli town.

Stas Misezhnikov said the planned meeting between the pope and Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghanaim contradicts the purpose of the pope’s scheduled visit next month to promote peace and dialogue, according to a statement issued from the minister’s office.

Misezhnikov reportedly will raise the issue during a meeting Wednesday with Vatican representatives.

"This is a terror supporter and warmonger that acts against the national interests of the state in which he serves as mayor, and I call on the Holy See to abstain from meeting with him," Misezhnikov said.

Misezhnikov, a member of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, heads the interministerial team in charge of preparations for the pope’s visit, which is called "Pilgrimage to the Holy Land — A Bridge for Peace."
 

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