Pope Francis and President Abbas met privately for 20 minutes. Afterwards the Holy See issued a statement, saying: “The hope was expressed that direct negotiations between the parties be resumed in order to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict.”
The statement continued: “To this end the wish was reiterated that, with the support of the international community, Israelis and Palestinians may take with determination courageous decisions to promote peace.”
The Holy Father also gave President Abbas a medal with a figure of an angel of peace, telling him: “I thought of you: May you become an angel of peace.”
Mr Abbas was in Rome for the canonisation of two Palestinian nuns yesterday, among 2,000 Christians from Palestine and the wider Middle East to attend the event at St Peter’s Square. Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, from a Palestinian family in Jerusalem, and Marian Bawardy, from a Greek Catholic family in Galilee, both lived in Ottoman-era Palestine.