Peres arrives in Rome to pray for peace with pope, Abbas


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres is in Rome to take part in a “call for peace” with Pope Francis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Peres arrived in the Italian capital on Sunday morning for the Vatican visit and the joint call for peace to people across the world at 7 p.m. that day. Delegations of Jewish, Christian and Islamic faith leaders will join Peres, Abbas and the pope in an event that will incorporate the three religions, according to Peres’ office.

The Israeli delegation includes rabbis, Druze leaders and imams. The Palestinian delegation is expected to include Islamic and Christian leaders. Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim professor Omar Abboud, two friends of the pope’s from Buenos Aires, also are scheduled to attend.

The event is scheduled to take place in Vatican Gardens, where there are no Christian religious symbols.

On Saturday, Francis tweeted about the service, “Prayer is all-powerful. Let us use it to bring peace to the Middle East and peace to the world.”

Vatican officials have called the service a “pause in politics” with no political intentions.

The pope made the invitation following the celebration of Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem during his visit last month to the Palestinian West Bank city. The offer came a month after the collapse of nine months of U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Peres will leave office at the end of July.


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