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Pope Francis Calls for a Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Christmas Address

Pope Francis delivers his Christmas 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing message (to the city and to the world) from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on December 25, 2016. Photo by Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images) Sipa USA via AP

Pope Francis used his annual Christmas Day address to call for a negotiated two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just days after more than 120 countries backed a U.N. resolution urging the U.S. to reverse its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) address, Francis highlighted the “children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.” He continued, “Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two States within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders.”

Read: ‘It’s Not a Good Translation.’ Why Pope Francis Wants to Tweak the Lord’s Prayer

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The pope had previously publicly criticized Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, saying he “cannot remain silent” about the decision, calling for all to respect the “status quo” in conformity with U.N. resolutions. He noted that Jerusalem is “a unique city sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace.”

After calling for prayers for peace in the Middle East, Francis used the rest of his address to call for the end of conflicts across the world, including in Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, the Korean peninsula, Venezuela, South Sudan, and Somalia.

He also called for the protection of minority groups in Myanmar and Bangladesh, saying “Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay one’s head.” In his Christmas Eve address, Pope Francis similarly strongly defended immigration, calling for openness to foreigners and refugees.

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