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Palestinian president Abbas invites pope to Holy Land

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Thursday invited Pope Francis to visit the Holy Land, during an audience in the Vatican, journalists present said. Abbas spoke to Vatican foreign affairs official Dominique Mambert after the audience, saying: "It was a pleasure and I invited him to the Holy Land". Israeli President Shimon Peres also invited Francis during a visit earlier this year and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to be received by the pope on Wednesday next week.

Palestinian president Abbas invites pope to Middle East

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Thursday said he had invited Pope Francis to the Middle East, during an audience in the Vatican. Speaking to Vatican foreign affairs official Dominique Mamberti after the talks, he said: "It was a pleasure and I invited him to the Holy Land". Abbas gave the pope a ceramic panel with a view of Bethlehem and a Bible as gifts, while Francis gave him a decorative pen with which Abbas said he hoped to sign a peace agreement with Israel. "Soon, soon," the pope responded.

Israel PM, president clash on peace at Rabin memorial

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly disagreed over the peace process on Wednesday at a memorial marking 18 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Speaking at an official state memorial broadcast live on Israeli television, Peres warned that the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians could not go on, in a clear call for the government to advance the fledgling peace talks.

Israel ready to act 'alone' against nuclear Iran

Israel is ready to act alone to stop Iran getting a nuclear bomb, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. "Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone," Netanyahu told world leaders and ministers at the UN summit. tw/dc

Football: Messi and Barcelona mobbed on Israel arrival

Lionel Messi and his fellow Barcelona stars were mobbed on their arrival in Israel on Saturday where the Spanish giants are staging two "training camps for peace". Hundreds of fans, wearing Barcelona shirts, as well as a heavy police presence greeted the squad who will train with groups of Israeli and Palestinian children. The players, who are also visiting Bethlehem and the Wailing Wall, were working with Palestinian youngsters at Hebron on Saturday night. On Sunday, they are due to meet Israel President Shimon Peres before coaching more children in Tel Aviv.

Israel's Peres says 'no alternative to peace' with Palestinians

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday said he was "hopeful" that peace talks with Palestinians will lead to a two-state solution and bring prosperity to the Middle East. "As an Israeli I am now very hopeful because the peace process was renewed between the Palestinians and ourselves," he told reporters on a visit to Lithuania, which holds the rotating EU presidency. Peres, who turns 90 on Friday, spoke after the start of talks in Washington on Monday and Tuesday put an end to a three-year hiatus.

Israeli president hails resumption of peace talks

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Monday hailed the resumption of long-stalled peace talks with Palestinians, saying he hoped for an end to the "stormy situation" in the Middle East. "We want to establish a two-state solution of a Palestinian state beside the state of Israel, living in peace and friendship and bringing an end to all conflict, which is so necessary today for all the people in the Middle East," Peres told reporters on a visit to Latvia. He described the start of talks in Washington after a three-year haitus as a "special day".

Japan tells Israel of plan to lend active support for Mideast peace

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Israeli President Shimon Peres agreed Wednesday on the need to resume stalled peace talks between Israel and Palestine, a Japanese official said. Kishida, who is currently on a trip to the Middle East, was quoted by the official as telling Peres during their meeting in Israel that Japan is ready to support the peace process and hopes for a frank dialogue.

Peres urges EU to delay moves to stop settlement funds

Israeli President Shimon Peres urged the EU on Thursday to delay stopping funding of projects involving settlements in the occupied territories as Palestinians and Israelis inch toward fresh peace talks. "The coming days are critical," his office quoted him as saying. "Wait with your decision, give priority to peace." The European Union is to publish new guidelines for its 28 member states on Friday that will block all funding of, or dealings with, Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem.

Peres urges EU to hold off on settlement funding curbs

Israeli President Shimon Peres called on the EU Thursday to delay adopting settlement funding curbs as Palestinians and Israelis inch toward fresh peace talks. "The coming days are critical," his office quoted him as saying in a statement. "Wait with your decision, give priority to peace." The European Union is to publish new guidelines for its 28 member states on Friday that will block all funding of, or dealings with, Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem.
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