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Pope Francis Calls on Israelis and Palestinians to Resume Dialogue

In his yearly address to the diplomatic corps, Pope Francis launched an appeal for peace in the Middle East, specifically summoning “Israelis and Palestinians” to resume talks aimed at finding “a stable and enduring solution” to conflicts.

On Monday, the Pope spoke to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See for the traditional exchange of new year greetings, commenting on various situations of strife around the world as well as diplomatic gains made during 2016.

The theme of this year’s address was “security and peace” in the midst of what the Pope described as a global “climate of general apprehension for the present, and uncertainty and anxious concern for the future.”

Turning his gaze toward the Middle East, Francis said that the Holy See “renews its urgent appeal for the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians towards a stable and enduring solution that guarantees the peaceful coexistence of two states within internationally recognized borders.”

“No conflict can become a habit impossible to break,” the pontiff stated. “Israelis and Palestinians need peace. The whole Middle East urgently needs peace!”

Along with his appeal to Israelis and Palestinians, the Pope also encouraged dialogue in Venezuela and a “full implementation” of the agreements aimed at restoring peace in Libya.

He likewise reiterated his support for efforts to renew peaceful civil coexistence in Sudan and South Sudan, and in the Central African Republic, “all plagued by ongoing armed conflicts, massacres and destruction,” and expressed hope that the recent agreement in the Democratic Republic of Congo might help enable political leaders to pursue reconciliation and dialogue between all elements of civil society.

In his address, Francis denounced “the deplorable arms trade” as well as “the never-ending race to create and spread ever more sophisticated weaponry.” He singled out the experiments being conducted on the Korean Peninsula, which he said “destabilize the entire region and raise troubling questions for the entire international community about the risk of a new nuclear arms race.”

The spread of weapons, he contended, “including those of small calibre,” aggravates conflicts and generates a widespread sense of insecurity and fear. “This is all the more dangerous in times, like our own, of social uncertainty and epochal changes,” he said.

For its part, the Holy See “will always be ready to cooperate with those committed to ending current conflicts and to offer support and hope to all who suffer,” he concluded.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter

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