#AceWorldNews – BETHLEHEM – May 25 – Pope Francis has prayed at the concrete barrier Israel is building in and around the West Bank during his three-day tour of the Middle East.
The unscheduled stop came after he called for an end to the “increasingly unacceptable” Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Speaking in Bethlehem, the Pope invited the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to the Vatican to pray for peace.
The tour’s official purpose is to improve ties with the Orthodox Church.
It comes just weeks after peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down.
Later, the Pope will travel to Tel Aviv and then Jerusalem where he will meet Bartholomew I, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople.
Jeremy Bowen, BBC News, Bethlehem
This has turned into a much better than expected visit for the Palestinians, according to a PLO official I spoke to here in Bethlehem.
Palestinians have used social media to post pictures of Pope Francis praying at the 8m concrete wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem. The Israelis say the wall and other parts of the separation barrier are vital for the security of their people. But for Palestinians the wall is tangible symbol of what they say is Israel’s intention to grab as much land as possible.