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Pope Francis hosts Israeli-Palestinian peace prayer

Published on Jun 8, 2014 10:44 AM

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis on Sunday hosts an unprecedented peace prayer meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in a symbolic gesture to foster dialogue but unlikely to have any immediate effect.

Tensions are running high between the two sides following the formation of a new Palestinian unity government backed by the Islamist group Hamas and the announcement of Israeli plans for building 3,200 new settler homes.

The Vatican is realistic about the effects of the ceremony.

"Nobody is fooling themselves that peace will break out in the Holy Land," said Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the head of the Franciscan Order in the Middle East who is organising the historic event in the Vatican Gardens.

Pope Francis holds a scarf offered by faithful as he leads a special audience for members of CSI (Italian sport centres) in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican June 7, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
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